It took him a while, but Vincent Frank is finally back to making music under his original moniker Frankmusik. And the hyper J-Pop sounds of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Perfume are what inspired him to make pop tunes again. I must admit I lost track of him after the misguided ‘Americanized’ sophomore effort, but the new tracks on his self-released new EP show that I shouldn’t have written him off just yet. On “Far From Over”, Frankmusik flirts with dubstep on “Captain”, croons on synth-ballad “The Line”, and revisits his early sound with “Thank You”, but it is “Map” that’s the definite highlight. Boasting a soaring monster chorus, the break-up track has a ’90s electronica vibe that’s perfect for listening on trains. Now that Frank’s got his groove back, there’s always room for one more male pop star. Welcome back Frankmusik.
Proper POP Alert! Aussie newcomer Betty Who is the latest potential pop gal on our radar. Her single “Somebody Loves You” has been on mad repeat, and we only just discovered it yesterday! Inspired by Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, the track was written after a failed long distance relationship as told by her, but you wouldn’t know giving its infectiously joyous nature. The straight-up ’80s jam is pure unadulterated pop: bouncy, sprightly, and unabashedly catchy. Betty also exudes charm and charisma in spades in the music video (embedded below). She’s currently unsigned, but not for long I bet. If you like Alphabeat, or old-school Madonna/Whitney/Janet, this should be right up your street. Seriously, if this song doesn’t have you grinning like an idiot by the end, then you sir need to cheer up a bit.
That was great fun wasn’t it? Did I mention it’s out now as a free download too?
Download remix stems of “Somebody Loves You” if you fancy having a go at it, or grab another free track “Fire With Fire” at her Soundcloud.
Shout-out to the always excellent Singles Jukebox for turning me on to this.
Frida Sundemo was previous known as simply Frida in Japan. The breezy-cutesy bossa-nova-tinged songs from her 2010 debut album “Dear, Let It Out” managed to strike a chord with the Japanese audience. Granted, she was not the first Swede indie girl to conquer Japan. Two years later, she has stunningly reinvented herself as Frida Sundemo, the next big Swedish synth-pop starlet.
“Indigo” is the kind of song that came out of nowhere and catch you by surprise. Her sweet vocals against the aggro synth backdrop made for a striking combo. It’s clear she has graduated from the same School of Pop as Robyn, Lykke Li, and Tove Styrke. It’s electro-pop perfection that only the Swedes can effortlessly offer in spades.
And here’s a different side from her early career, the sweet lounge ditty “Towers”:
One of the most promising acts for 2013? I think so.
Chart Music is the new joint project of Le Prix and Roger Gunnarsson, both of whom have worked with Sally Shapiro, Johan Agebjörn, Cloetta Paris and Queen of Hearts. If you don’t know any of those names, educate yourself. If you do, then you probably know what to expect. The first song from the Stockholm-based duo is “When You Lied”, featuring Viktor Ginner on vocals, and it’s a gorgeous piece of melancholy heart-on-sleeve anorak twee-pop blub-a-thon. Influences include italo disco, ’80s synth-pop and John Hughes films. If you don’t feel something when the middle eight’s instrumental breakdown glides in, then you sir need to check your pulse!
STREAM: Chart Music – When You Lied
An accompanying video was made of clips from obscure 1986 teen flick Lucas. Prepared to get your sad eyes on.
Just in time for Friday night, here’s the Hercules and Love Affair remix of Bat For Lashes‘ latest single “All Your Gold”. It’s a no-brainer union, since I always thought his throwback Chicago house sound would mesh well with her voice. Check it out below!
And if you haven’t seen its music video yet, please do. For me, it’s an instant classic that begs for repeated viewings. It’s beautifully choreographed, performed, filmed and edited, and those vaguely ritualistic moves Natasha Khan pulls are so captivating. This has become my second favourite video of hers beside that one. Stunning.
“Something In The Way You Are” is easily the best of the batch of new songs on Kimbra‘s US release of “Vows”. It’s a straightforward, catchy midtempo pop number that makes good use of a recycled Lil’ Mama beat. What I didn’t see coming is a remix from Nordic space-disco wiz Prins Thomas. Have a listen below.
STREAM: Kimbra – Something In The Way You Are (Prins Thomas Discomiks)
Watch the literally bonkers video for her latest single “Come Into My Head” after the jump.
It’s strange to remember that Joss Stone is still quite big in America. Despite being largely ignored in her homeland, her last 3 albums have all gone top ten here. 9 years after “The Soul Sessions” – the album that started it all, she just released Vol. 2, comprising a new collection of cover songs. The lead single is a stoned-soul rendition of Broken Bells’ “The High Road”, which is pretty much the 2012 equivalent of her White Stripes cover “Fell In Love With A Boy” back then. I actually find it quite agreeable, if a bit oversung. She’s obviously a very gifted vocalist, but I wish she would stop smoking pot for a second to give Eg White a call and go back to her “You Had Me” ways. Anyway, it’s quite nice to see her in a proper music video again. Watch the psychedelic video for “The High Road” below.
Chrysta Bell is David Lynch‘s mysterious new muse, who self-released her debut album “This Train” in 2011. Even though her new video for album cut Bird Of Flames was not directed by Lynch, it certainly shares a few thematic influences. It’s an otherworldly, colorful, sensual cabaret performance piece that’s a perfect visual match for the song, which I would describe as ‘Goldfrapp goes android’ – eerie, hypnotic, trippy, late-night mood music. If the production reminds you of Lynch’s own “Crazy Clown Time” stuff, you’re not far off since the auteur did produce it indeed. Have a peek at the beautiful video below.
STREAM: Chrysta Bell – Bird Of Flames
British DIY popstrel Florrie recently unveiled a music video for the best cut off her new Late EP , “Shot You Down”. The black-and-white affair is simple but stunning, featuring Florrie doing what she does best: singing, drumming, and looking gorgeous. Triple threat, as one would say. For me the song itself epitomises the Florrie sound – built on repetition and progression, somewhere in between club remixes and not quite fully fledged pop songs, but still insanely catchy and meticulously produced. As “Late” is her last self-released EP, I can’t wait to see which major label she will sign to, and what she has in store for us. And let’s not forget about that much-teased Annie duet! It’s exciting times to be a Florrie fan, and it’s not too late to join the club!
For her new single, British songstress Delilah goes back to the beginning with “Breathe”, a track previously given away as a free download last year, and now gets a revamp for its single status. At first I wasn’t sure about this single choice, since both “Go” & “Love You So” were so brilliant, but the new mix added the bells & whistles while still keeping the subtleties of the original demo. The demo sounded like Zero 7 to my ears, but this new version is closer to the Portishead school of hopelessly sombre and bleak night music. Those haunting strings at the end are just masterful.
The suitably moody video reflects the urban decay in the song. And is it only me who never noticed the scar on her left cheek before?
I kept half-expecting the song to drop into a drum & bass breakdown. Thankfully, the Sub Zero remix does just that while maintaining the atmostphere. There are few cases where I prefer a remix over the original but this might be one.
STREAM: Delilah – Breathe (Sub Zero Remix)
And if you prefer to put a womp on it, there’s Emalkay dubstep take, which you can download for free below.
MP3: Delilah – Breathe (Emalkay Remix)
A fan of duets? There’s one with fellow Chase & Status collaborator Liam Bailey. She really covers all bases, doesn’t she?
STREAM: Delilah – Breathe (Duet Version feat. Liam Bailey)
Tove Styrke proves that Swedish popstars are not above Western sales-boosting tactics, by adding a rapper feature for the single version of “Bad Time For A Good Time”. However, it’s one of the rare cases where the amped up version is actually an improvement on the original. Even though I never heard of this Gnucci Banana before and she gives me unpleasant Karmin vibes, she did a good job of giving more oomph to the track. Tove’s vocals on the album version sounds too polite to match the brattiness of the production. Is it me or is this more of an Icona Pop song? This suits them down to a tee, considering both Tove and Icona Pop share the same producer Patrik Berger. Check out the budget music video below, and stream the original version after the jump.
The Shoes’ “Crack My Bones” was one of the more underrated releases of 2011 that I didn’t get a chance to write about. For a band previously rooted in remix service for the blogs, the album was a pleasant surprise of catchy indie synth-pop of a contemplative, melancholy nature, with vocal contributions from all the hip British artists like CocknBullKid, Esser, Primary 1. Even though they are big in their home country France, it looks like they’re finally getting their due here, thanks to their controversial “Time To Dance” video.
Ultra-violent, intense and disturbing, the 8-minute video starred Jake Gyllenhaal as an unhinged serial killer, always on to the next victim. To be honest, the song’s not my most favorite on the album, as it feels like a poor man’s Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.”, down to the spelling bee gimmick, but it will be the one to get people talking, especially after the release of its compelling video. Unfortunately, I think it’s one of those cases where the accompanying visuals are so strong they overpower the song, and the song’s kinda ruined for me now that it will forever be associated with Jake’s creepy-ass serial killer brows. Anyhow, check out the video below if you haven’t (not for the faint of heart obviously), then stream the new extended edit, and the SebastiAn remix which only pushed the Justice comparisons further.
STREAM: The Shoes – Time to Dance (Extended Video Edit)
STREAM: The Shoes – Time to Dance (SebastiAn Remix)
British pop star Marina Diamandis and her diamonds premiered the new single and video “Primadonna” yesterday, and once again she’s in it to win it. The song is pure pop confection, with Marina’s distinctive deep voice and her lyrics about self-identity and ambitions adding some bite and character to an otherwise business-as-usual production by Dr. Luke. It really is just hook after hook, with a gorgeous, wistful chorus as well. She continues to add her own unique spin on the commercial chart-pop sound, and I actually like this better than “Radioactive”.
And of course, it helps that the Casper Balslev-directed video is nothing short of stunning, with Marina doing her own Cindy Sherman editorial thing. My favorite moment is probably the rather poignant car wash scene.
STREAM: Marina & The Diamonds – Primadonna
And here’s another cut from the new album, “Homewrecker”:
STREAM: Marina & The Diamonds – Homewrecker
“Primadonna” is out April 16, while the new album “Electra Heart” drops April 30 in the UK, and May 8 in the US.
Meanwhile, you can grab a free download of album track “Homewrecker” here.
For some reasons, I always assumed Rebecca & Fiona‘s music to be more bubblegum/clubby, what with their collaboratons with the likes of Kaskade and Adrian Lux. With that said, I’m glad I gave their new single a chance, because “Dance” actually falls more on the side of Fever Ray or iamamiwhoami. It’s nocturnal electro-pop the way I like – with an insidious bassline, beautiful synthetic strings and a slow-burning atmosphere throughout. The restraint in execution here is quite masterful, ’cause it doesn’t have to be raved up all the time. The moodily-lit visuals are a great complement to the track, too. It does make you wanna stop the car in the middle of a desolate road at night and dance away to oblivion, which is not advisable though. Check out the video & the track below. And yes, they’re Swedes.
STREAM: Rebecca & Fiona – Dance
“Dance” is off their debut album “I Love You, Man”, released in 2011.
More on Rebecca & Fiona.
I stumbled upon Cœur De Pirate‘s music in passing before, but the Canadian chanteuse’s new single “Golden Baby” is possibly my new favorite song of hers. It is sleek and lush retro-pop, set to a cool music video that’s like Teenage Dream gone supernatural. Among the things featured are exploding candies, flying plates, man on fire and the Northern lights. That it’s in French and I don’t quite understand what she sings just gives it that extra foreign appeal. “Golden Baby” is from her second album, “Blonde”, released last year.
Darkness Falls is the Danish indie rock duo of Josephine Philip and Ina Lindgreen. Together they created “Alive In Us” – their first album released in late 2011 with production handled by Trentemøller. They remind me a lot of their fellow Danish rockers Mew, and for good reasons too.“The Void” is the single to discover, a prime example of just how well the Danes understand atmosphere in music. Instrumentally, it’s flawlessly produced – chilling, brooding, and melancholic. However, it’s not without flaws. It feels like the vocals didn’t maximize the ethereality it could go for, and the lyrics left something to be desired, beside its English-as-second-language charm. Regardless, it’s music that pertains to a certain kind of mood and weather, and a Saturday rainy morning is just the right catalyst, not to mention that the gorgeously-shot music video is a must-watch.
STREAM: Darkness Falls – The Void
Their album is available for streaming on Spotify, so I’ve got my homework cut out. Hopefully there’s more where this comes from.
Danish pop princess Oh Land just unleashed a jolly music video for her brand new single “Speak Out Now”. Shot in Copenhagen, the Sebastian-Birk-directed video has the songstress frolic through a beautiful botanical garden, flaunt her cheekbones in a forest, and ends with an evening dance by the lake, all in a day’s work. The gorgeously filmed, nature-themed visuals are a perfect match for the sprightly tune. Plus, who needs a comb when you’re a pop star!
“Speak Out Now” is out now digitally, and also available as a free download.
MP3: Oh Land – Speak Out Now
Say bonjour to up-and-coming French indie-pop duo Singtank. Even though the band of Alexandre and Josephine de la Baume is still in early stages, they are gaining attention for being wicked cool by association. The sister, actress/singer Josephine, is in fact Mark Ronson‘s wife, and has been touted by Kate Moss and Daze & Confused magazine as the next big thing. Their first single “The Party” is pretty standard as quirky indie-pop goes, with the brother on lead vocals and Josephine providing harmonies. It’s a fun, catchy ditty that reminds me of another boy/girl duo, The Dø. The video is visually arresting in an Alice in Wonderland meets M.C. Escher way. It’ll be interesting to hear more from them, apparently they worked with Bjork’s former producer Nellee Hooper. I wonder if they worked with Mark too, or maybe that’s too obvious?
Their debut album, “In Wonder”, drops May 7.
More on Singtank.
Jessie Baylin is one of those singers/songwriters whose names I recognize despite never really listening to the music. Even though her track “Hurry Hurry” has been out since 2010, it’s now pushed as the lead single promoting her new album “Little Spark”. The Richard-Swift-produced track has a gorgeous ’60s pop arrangement with strings, harp and ghostly backing vocals. It’s a laidback, dreamy tune that should make a nice addition to your rainy days playlist. For the music video, Jessie enlisted childhood friend Scarlett Johansson as the director. The video is an understated affair, a one-take shot of Jessie slo-mo walking on rain-streaked Manhattan Bridge with an occasional change of saturation and effects. For a song called “Hurry Hurry”, she sure moved at a leisurely pace!
Grab an mp3 of the track and a free EP after the jump…
For unknown reasons, I realize I never posted about Alex Winston before, despite being fascinated with her music for quite some time. After a long wait, her debut album “King Con” is finally scheduled to drop on March 6. The American popstrel has been making kooky leftfield-pop tunes since 2010, and after two fantastic singles, “Sister Wife” and “Velvet Elvis”, she’s on to scoring a hattrick with “Choice Notes”. Previously an early single, and album track on her 2011 EP, it has been given a freshened-up mix for the re-release. As for the music video, Alex went back to hometown Detroit for the shoot, and it results in a fun and cute clip. The song is possibly her most accessible track so far, with an instant sing-along chorus and feel-good plinky-plonky piano riffs. Funnily enough, I thought it was so commercial-ready, so I looked it up and apparently it was already synched for two! I’m not entirely sure about the release timing, since it always sounds more like a summer song to me. With luck, it can potentially be the new “Pack Up”.
Part of Alex’s charm is her unique voice, which is part Cocorosie, part Fever Ray meets Joanna Newsom, and of course, [insert obvious reference]. Admittedly, it’s not to everyone’s taste, and can sound shrill and grating at times, unless your ears are trained to quirky vocals for years. With that said, I like that her music is a bit spooky and eerie, with unconventional subjects, but also full of hooks. Watch the video, listen to the old version, and grab an MP3 of “Sister Wife” below.
STREAM: Alex Winston – Choice Notes (2010 version)
It occurred to me the other day that it’s been a while since I heard from Maia Hirasawa. After all, she’s responsible for one of the finest, catchiest indie pop songs ever made. So I decided to do some catching up and to my surprise, not only had the lovely Swedish/Japanese singer/songwriter relocated to Japan, she also released a new album over there last year! Her self-titled Japan-only album is a collection of new songs in English and Japanese, as well as assorted tracks from her second album and Swedish EP. The lead single “It Doesn’t Stop” also serves as a sort of introduction to the land of rising sun, and it’s classic Maia at her best – robust, bright and sprightly. The song’s bursting with life and sheer joy that it couldn’t fail to bring a stupid grin on my face. Most of all, it took me right back to 2007, when I first discovered the super talented female roster of Swede lavel Razzia Records, including Maia among Hello Saferide, Firefox AK, and Jonna Lee. Those were the days…
View the sailor-themed video for the song below – you will really dig this if you’re a fan of Regina Spektor or commercial-friendly Feist. For good measure, I’ll throw in her harp-laden cover of Ne-Yo’s “Because Of You”. As you can tell by the choice, it’s a quite old one but still sounds fantastic.
The video for Firefok AK‘s new single “Color The Trees” is out, and it is awesome! Once again Andrea Kellerman and her husband Rasmus (Tiger Lou) joined forces, but this time they got to burst out some pretty cool dance moves on surrealist CGI landscapes. This marks the third time they collaborated, which appears to be a once-in-an-album thing. “Color The Trees” is definitely one of her best songs to date, a very catchy, uptempo tune of the quality melancholic Swede electro-pop calibre, with a distinctly wintry feel. The Bjorn-Yttling-produced track springs from her third album of the same name released last year in Sweden. The album has a tentative release date on February 6 in UK, and hopefully, a Stateside release will soon follow. In the meantime, check out the great video below and download a bonus remix.
Nicola Roberts‘ new single “Yo-Yo” is officially out today in the UK, and those who pre-ordered can get their hands on an exclusive b-side – her solo version of Girls Aloud‘s poptastic b-side “Memory Of You”. It’s very nice of her to open up the vault and offer the fans what’s probably the closest thing to a Xenomania-produced Nicola track to date. Admittedly, although I used to expect and hope for this kind of sound for solo Nicola (ethereal, floaty, wistful disco-pop), I wouldn’t change a thing about “Cinderella’s Eyes” album campaign – from the consistently gorgeous artwork to the charmingly shoddy promo videos, and even her newfound fondness for caterwauling as well. It’s a shame the public didn’t quite latch on to her ginger brilliance, but “Cinderella’s Eyes” shall remain one of the most amazing underperformed gems of 2011. Check out the track below, and watch the video for “Yo-Yo” after the jump.
STREAM: Nicola Roberts – Memory of You
So it’s that jolly time of the year when new original festive songs are in demand again. Up-and-coming Swedish duo Serenades has stepped up to the challenge by releasing a holiday-themed song as their first single. However, “Come Home” is not so much about Christmas itself, but rather a lament about the non-festivity of a one-man holiday. And they sugarcoat the depressing sentiment with lovely sun-kissed melodies that Swedes can seemingly do in their sleep. Serenades’ music falls in the same subgenre of chill, tropical, Instagrammed ’80s pop that The Tough Alliance and Gypsy & The Cat also frequent. While their sound’s not entirely original, it’s done beautifully, and there’s enough room for another band in that niche. Curiously, they are signed to Cherrytree Records, Lady Gaga’s label, so undoubtedly we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in 2012. Watch/stream “Come Home” right below.
A 4-track EP is out now, including a remix by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John.