Moving away from the lush, dreamy soundscapes of her second album, Oh Land returns with something a little more adventurous. For her third full-length entitled “Wish Bone”, the Danish songstress works with producer Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio). Her relocation to Brooklyn really shows in the new batch of songs. Lead single “Renaissance Girls” is a fun celebration of female empowerment in the form of an infectious synth-pop tune. The girl-power sentiment is cool in a post-Lilith-Fair way, and the immaculately choreographed music video is AMAZING. She really put her ballet dancer skills to good use!
There’s also a lovely new video for the quirky “Pyromaniac”. She’s really nailing it down on the visual side this era. Her hair alone is divine, I can’t tell what exact shade it is (light blue greyish blond?), but she rocks it.
You can now stream the entire album on New York Times. FYI, the track co-written with former tourmate Sia is “Green Card”.
Goldfrapp never cease to surprise. After their brief flirtation with ’80s synth-pop on Head First, Alison & Will revert to nature for their forthcoming sixth album Tales of Us. If you’re a fan of Seventh Tree and Felt Mountain, you’re bound to be pleased, the sound template this time is much inspired by organic textures, James Bond soundtrack, and ’70s Italian film scores, with a touch of grandiosity. Alison’s voice remains otherwordly and crystalline on the haunting “Drew”, which could well be the sequel to “A&E”. Those cinematic strings at the middle eight… they’re quite something.
STREAM: Goldfrapp – Drew
Every track on the album is named after a person, like a postcard to a ghost of past memories. The second short film for “Annabel” premiered yesterday, and it’s just as gorgeous. It’s clear they’re treating this project as a singular body of work.
Goldfrapp are performing a one-off show at Beacon Theater on 9/10 to celebrate the album release next week. Tickets are still available. See you there?
It’s been a while since Daley was longlisted for BBC Sound of 2011, and the British R&B/soul vocalist has yet to release his debut album, despite his fantastic Gorillaz collab “Doncamatic” and the Jessie-J-assisted moderate hit “Remember Me”. As frustrating and out-of-control these things are, he soldiers on with a brand new single entitled “Broken”. Probably his most commercial work to date, the soaring string-laden track follows that ’90s trip-hop/drum-and-bass throwback template that’s so on-trend right now, thanks to Naughty Boy, Emeli Sandé and Rudimental. He even travelled to the Seven Sisters cliff for the music video, so you know he means business.
He’s undoubtedly got an amazing voice, I wouldn’t mind more songs in this direction really.
My favorite Norwegian Erlend Øye has returned with his first solo outing in 12 years. It’s a single called “La Prima Estate”, it’s in Italian, and it’s amazing in the most unexpected ways. Let me count the ways of its amazingness:
- THAT ARTWORK. Loud is the new quiet!
- How amazingly random it is. Apparently, the one half of Kings of Convenience is now living in Italy, and the song is his homage to ’70s Italo easy-listening folk-pop, popular in Norway at the time. He did his research, and it showed. It’s a totally unexpected re-introduction, but for a man whose past repertoire ranges from acoustic folk to Berlin indie techno, I shouldn’t be so surprised.
- Even though I don’t understand a word, it still sounds like the giddiest piece of jet-set-ready summer music. Jens Lekman would be proud.
- THE VIDEO, shot on location in Siracusa Sicily. Who are all these twee geeks dancing like fools, bursting with unadulterated joy? Prepare to grin like an idiot.
As a bonus, here’s a video of Erlend Øye casually performing a cover of Pet Shop Boys‘ 1996 single “Se a vida é (That’s the Way Life Is)” on an abandoned rooftop. So chill.
We might not’ve been exactly vocal about this in the past (apols) but we love Summer Camp, aka UK power duo of Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley. They wrote some very listenable pop tunes.
Now that they’re back for another round with album no. 2, the band has stepped their game up. Current single “Fresh” is what you get when you put the following ingredients in a blender and press “Mix”: Disney string samples, Beach Boys ghost harmonies, funky disco bassline, ’90s Britpop, Tumblr irony, and of course, ’80s John Hughes teen angst. A delicious smoothie, you’d agree.
The charming and colorful music video directed by Lucy Needs is one of those performance videos where the artist has to learn to lip sync to their song backwards. Watch as Elizabeth reiterate Jarvis Cocker’s question “Do you remember the first time?” (can you spot the other Pulp reference?).
More than 2 years after its release, Birdy‘s cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” is still hovering around the lower end of iTunes Top 100. Clearly, the 17-year-old alt-pop interpreter would do just fine living off the royalties of that hit. She bravely soldiers on with a sophomore effort of original tunes anyway. “Wings” is the lead single from her upcoming album “Fire Within” (no easy poultry puns, please), and if it’s an indication of quality, then she’s got nothing to worry about stepping away from the covers.
Sonically, it’s pleasingly stuck in 2005, when the likes of Snow Patrol, Keane and Coldplay were hugely popular with their brand of sensitive indie stadium-pop. You can even sing the chorus of “Yellow” on top of it if you like. Not that I’m complaining, it’s been long enough to feel nostalgic for those days. “Wings” is stately, immaculately-produced Radio 2 pop and an immense grower of a song.
In the music video directed by the legendary Sophie Muller (who previously worked with her on “Skinny Love” and “Shelter”), Birdy seems to find herself at an ennui-laden costume party, but even I’d be pretty down too if my dress sleeves were fashioned out of steamer baskets. Watch the lovely video below.
Ever the samaritan, Birdy has also offered an MP3 of trip-hoppy album cut “All You Never Say” for the price of your email address. Go for it, it’s worth it. The instrumental middle eight is particularly beautiful.
DOWNLOAD: Birdy – All You Never Say
I look forward to adding this album to my music-for-rainy-days category.
Postiljonen is the next big Swedish export, and they have delivered a stunning debut album in “Skyer”. I can only describe the Stockholm-based trio’s music as panoramic, multi-textured road-trip synth-pop. The ’80s synth and sax riffs are larger than life, while wispy, murmuring vocals are mixed like an afterdream, hazy and unobtrusive, interspersed with dialogue samples from unidentified, possibly non-existent films. As is the case with shoegazing dream-pop, due of its unique construct, you probably won’t remember much of the lyrics or melodies, but there’s enough ear candy to keep coming back and peel at the layers. The 10-track album is short and sweet, with the more upbeat numbers (Supreme, We Raise Our Hearts, Skying High) sequenced in between ambient, filmic ones (Rivers, Plastic Panorama). There is also an unlikely, spectral cover take on Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”, gloomily retitled as “All That We Had Is Lost”. “Atlantis” – the current single – makes a perfect album closer, thanks to its monster saxophone action and a nocturnal, melancholic back-of-a-taxi-cab mood. If you like M83, or The Naked And Famous, then Postiljonen’s widescreen after-hours pop is for you.
Check out the music video for Atlantis below, and album highlight “We Raise Our Hearts”.
STREAM: Postiljonen – We Raise Our Hearts
Here are SIX facts you need to know about our latest Popforward act Rebeka.
1. Rebeka are Iwona Skwarek and Bartosz Szczęsny. Those happen to be Polish names. You can see why they settled for Rebeka instead.
2. Their current single is “Melancholia”. You can’t go wrong with a song called “Melancholia”.
3. If you quite like Goldfrapp, Ladytron, The Knife and other bands from Europe that make modern/spooksome synth-pop, you will like this.
4. The music video features some very nice plants.
5. You can grab a FREE mp3 of the track right here!
Actually, you can download a free Moullinex remix too.
6. Their debut album “Hallada” is available to buy in all the usual places. If you’re more of a streaming type, find it on Spotify.
For some reasons, I used to mistake Mayer Hawthorne for a punk/emo band, and for that false impression, I steered clear of their music. Not until I found out Jessie Ware did some vocals on the new single “Her Favorite Song” did I finally have a listen and to my surprise, Mayer Hawthorne is actually a white American guy singing blue-eyed soul!
“Her Favorite Song” is a throwback to the heyday of adult contemporary soft rock à la Sting. Mayer Hawthorne proudly wore his influences on his sleeves, as he tapped into this uncool ’80s genre and shook it up with a bit of Prince. It’s an ultra-smooth, cosmopolitan jam, but it’s Jessie Ware’s (uncredited) sultry vocals during the chorus that add an extra touch of class and elevate this track beyond Bruno Mars/Robin Thicke MOR territory. And if the music alone is not enough to win you over, there is now a glossy music video featuring models and dogs that dress like humans. Dogs that dress like humans! Good move, not-an-emo-band Mayer Hawthorne.
Check out the Large Professor remix after the jump.
Way back in 2005, British duo The Boy Least Likely To released “Be Gentle With Me”, a perfect indie pop song with an adorable video featuring animal puppets playing instruments and a pre-Office Rashida Jones playing the manic pixie dream girl. 8 years later, for their third studio album “The Great Perhaps”, Owen & Pete Hobbs are still hopelessly twee, quietly chucking out little pop gems about the woes of love and growing up. New single “It Could’ve Been Me” is one of its (many) highlights. A duet with the ever-lovely Gwenno Saunders from The Pipettes, it finally got a suitably meet-cute music video which you can view right below. Just try not to grow anime eyes all over afterwards. You’ve been warned.
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.