Category: Introducing (Page 2 of 24)

Introducing NATION OF LANGUAGE

Brooklyn-based duo NATION OF LANGUAGE are singer / songwriter Ian Devaney and his wife Aidan Noell on keyboards.

Gifted with a voice of anguish, Devaney had fronted New Jersey alternative rock band THE STATIC JACKS who released their only album ‘In Blue’ in 2013.

Legend has it that NATION OF LANGUAGE came into being when Devaney heard OMD’s ‘Electricity’ in his father’s car for the first time in years, having grown up with it as part of his domestic soundtrack. This led to Devaney adopting what he termed the “beginner’s mind” of those pioneering synth acts.

So he began writing songs with monophonic synths like the Behringer MS-1, Korg MS20 and Moog Sub37 while like OMD, also using bass guitar. Issuing a series of singles since 2016 including an electronic cover of PIXIES’ ‘Gouge Away’, NATION OF LANGUAGE finally released their debut album ‘Introduction, Presence’ in Spring 2020.

Now if Rodney Cromwell had joined MIRRORS or if MIRRORS had more of a Factory Records fixation as opposed to looking up to OMD, then that would be the sound of NATION OF LANGUAGE. So despite having dense production aesthetics in common, the more inherent gloominess means that NATION OF LANGUAGE are perhaps less obviously immediate than MIRRORS. NATION OF LANGUAGE have also made more use of NEW ORDER style melodic lead bass provided by Michael Sui-Poi from THE STATIC JACKS, while Fabrizio Moretti from THE STROKES occasionally guested on drums.

‘On Division St’ is a close relative to ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with its sharp synth lines and programmed bass triplets, while ‘Rush & Fever’ plays with sequencers and electronic effects to reinforce the NEW ORDER influence but perhaps more unexpectedly, Devaney starts to sound like Morten Harket of A-HA.

The spectre of the Norwegian pop trio looms on the superb synth driven album highlight ‘Friend Machine’ which examines society’s addiction to technology and the standalone synthpop flavoured single ‘A Different Kind Of Life’. However, the shadier tones of  CHVRCHES collaborator Matt Berninger of THE NATIONAL is who Devaney mostly emulates vocally.

Album opener ‘Tournament’ imagines an artistic union of A-HA and LCD SOUNDSYSTEM while ‘Automobile’ adds full chords via some Roland Strings; continuing the driving theme, there’s the partly spoken robopop of ‘The Motorist’.

While the album closer ‘The Wall & I’ exhibits more of a post-punk feel like FM ATTACK meets SECTION 25, the glorious brand new single ‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ uses a more blippy construction and takes a leaf out of the more experimental phase of early OMD while eschewing bass guitar following the departure of Michael Sui-Poi.

‘A Different Kind Of Life’ and ‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ both signal the next phase of NATION OF LANGUAGE and unlike MIRRORS who many are comparing them to, a second long player is a likely realisation.

It will be very interesting to see where the duo head next and whether the machines become not just friends but family…


‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ is available as a digital single, along with their back catalogue to date from https://nationoflanguage.bandcamp.com/

‘Introduction, Presence’ can be purchased as a vinyl LP from https://www.nationoflanguage.com/

https://www.facebook.com/nationoflanguage

https://twitter.com/notionofanguish

https://www.instagram.com/nationoflanguage/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5JWBow4ywgKNQ5HBxY8hcz


Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd March 2021

Introducing VIOLET CHOIR

Phoenix-based VIOLET CHOIR comprise of Mickey Louise and Jesse Pangburn who met at college while studying jazz.

Previously indie rock combo THE PROWLING KIND and dream popsters MRCH, the output from their previous guises appeared in the soundtracks of ‘The Twilight Zone’, ‘Search Party’, ‘13 Reasons Why’, ‘Shameless’ and’ The Vampire Diaries’.

On ‘Reactions’, their 2017 debut album as MRCH, the duo fully embraced a more electronic sound to the point that it was more or less fully sequenced.

Inspired by the likes of independent artists like COMPUTER MAGIC aka DANZ CM and the synthwave breakthrough, there came a change of style with a change of name. So VIOLET CHOIR was born. Their self-titled EP makes use of a Prophet 08, some Moog via the Matriarch and Minitaur, plus Ableton soft synths simulating DX7 bell sounds. Meanwhile a live kit and drum machines sit in tandem alongside occasional electric guitar and bass.

Moody and percussive without resorting to synthwave clichés, ‘Don’t Come Around’ recalls the feel of KLEERUP’s ‘Nothing Left To Die For’ with Jenny Wilson. Nurtured on jazz and rock, Mickey Louise’s voice comes over rich and airy over an appealing electronic pop song that doesn’t sound as long as its five and a half minutes length might suggest.

Although adopting more of a post-punk template with live bass and guitar, ‘Tonight’ still has plenty of synths to add texture including a surprising jazzier twirl and a particularly piercing but melodic sound reminiscent of the sparkly feminine new wave vibe of PARALLELS or CHROMATICS.

Meanwhile, the chunky fuzz and deeper treated vocal counterpoints on ‘Dream About It’ offer a slightly gothic dimension to a slice of precision disco lento, with its dynamic highs and lows projecting in the manner of THE GOLDEN FILTER.

Maintaining that “life is strange”, the sombre root note bass and strident keyboard arpeggio patterns make ‘Friend Song’ the most archetypical synthwave styled offering on the EP, with the breezily wispy vocals contributing to an enjoyable chorus uplift.

The electroclash-derived ‘Kids On Sunset’ adopts a dominant bass triplet for a galloping rhythmic sway that becomes more addictive as it approaches the dancefloor. The presence of the coy feline allure of COMPUTER MAGIC with her track ‘Fuzz’ in particular and the much missed Texan duo ELEVEN:ELEVEN are strong.

This debut EP is not your run-of-the-mill synthwave-by-numbers and by bringing their experience from other genres, VIOLET CHOIR have largely avoided the usual musical catchphrases that can haunt modern electronic pop. What stands out are the songs and the musicality. Time will see Mickey Louise and Jesse Pangburn fully realise the promise on show here.


‘Violet Choir’ EP released on 19th February 2021 by Fervor Records

http://www.violetchoir.com/

https://www.facebook.com/violetchoir/

https://twitter.com/violetchoir

https://www.instagram.com/violetchoir/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3l62JBwb5peXmTGwKh4DM3


Text by Chi Ming Lai
20th February 2021

Introducing LEAGUE OF LIGHTS

Although LEAGUE OF LIGHTS are already veterans of two albums, the heavy rock band sound of their 2011 self-titled debut is not an indicator of where they are today.

The nucleus of vocalist Farrah West and keyboard player Richard West reconvened as a duo for 2019’s ‘In The In Between’ long player which showed more restraint on the rockier elements of their debut and made room for electronics, piano ballads and cinematic soundscapes.

For their new album ‘Dreamers Don’t Come Down’, LEAGUE OF LIGHTS have revealed a love for JOHN FOXX and LADYTRON while developing a pop sound akin to an artier DRAGONETTE. Recorded during lockdown, its more keyboard oriented approach looks to the synth pioneers of the past by limiting the pallet of sounds available in production and allowing the vocals room to shine.

Premiering this more focussed and accomplished direction is ‘Modern Living’, a slice of enjoyable goth disco that comes over like THE SMASHING PUMPKINS recent single ‘Cyr’ meeting ‘Hello’, DRAGONETTE’s 2010 collaboration with Martin Solveig. It comes accompanied by an anime video edited together from the romantic fantasies ‘Your Name’ (Kimi No Na Wa) and ‘Weathering With You (Tenki No Ko)’, both directed by Makoto Shinkai.

Cut from not an entirely dissimilar cloth to ‘Modern Living’, the spritely uptempo ‘Persephone’ exhibits crossover potential with an uplifting chorus; looking for “a light at the end of the tunnel”, ‘The Boys Of Summer’ and ‘Blinding Lights’ can be traced within its blueprint.

With great keyboard lines, ‘The Collector’ is more sombre in its verse but offers hope in the face of adversity, reflecting the mission statement of the parent album’s title, while the more guitar-assisted ‘Ghosts’ is a close relative.

Reflecting on the self-produced ‘Dreamers Don’t Come Down’, Farrah said: “it is about the past, the present and the future; about taking the best from all that you have been through, the pressures of modern life and keeping your dreams alive in dark times.”


‘Dreamers Don’t Come Down’ is released on 12th March 2021 in CD and digital formats by Eightspace Records with a vinyl LP out on 23rd April 2021 via Plane Groovy

https://leagueoflights.com/

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https://burningshed.com/tag/League+Of+Lights


Text by Chi Ming Lai
10th February 2021

Introducing LAURA DRE

Laura Dre may be a new name in synth but she is a seasoned musician and producer with years of experience playing live and working in the studio, completing a degree in Music Production at BIMM along the way.

Having fronted feisty electro-rock combo VINYL BLACK STILETTOS whose second EP ‘Electrical’ was produced by PET SHOP BOYS programmer and engineer Pete Gleadall while also making instrumental music as JADZIADX, the solo work of Laura Dre showcases a fascination for yesterday’s tomorrow.

One of her little projects outside of music has been to build a 1/8th scale model kit of a DeLorean in its ‘Back To The Future’ variant, complete with flux capacitor!

The German-Filipino songstress told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “I’d set my time machine to 27.06.1987 – because of the following release dates: ‘Blue Monday’ 1983, ‘Self Control’ 1984, ‘Living In A Box’ 1987 – I would love to experience the 80s club scene with my favourite songs.”

She also owns a 1987 Casio DG20 Guitar Synthesizer to go with her Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface and Behringer X Touch One controller set-up. Having signed a deal with Outland Recordings, Laura Dre opened her account with a moody nocturnal cover of ‘Strangelove’.

I think it’s an interesting choice because there was some good musical complexity in the song, and lyrically it also aligns well with my album theme which is about ‘unrequited love’” she said as she reflected on the 1987 DEPECHE MODE song, “I rarely do covers but if I do one, I want to have something challenging and make things ‘my own’. Meaning if it’s a fast paced pop track, then I might turn it into a slower electronic version and add my own flavour to the piece, giving it my signature sound.”

Her first single proper though is the dreamy ‘Moving Spaces’, a fine showcase for her deeper contralto vocal style influenced by Shirley Manson, PJ Harvey and Alison Goldfrapp. Texturally and structurally, the glistening song takes its lead from classic electronic pop. The accompanying lyric video produced by Outland themselves uses footage from the computer game ‘Leisure Suit Larry III’.

Laura Dre added: “All my musical pieces encompass synthesizers in some shape or form, the only difference this time is the style. This year I experimented with making 80s music and without realising it, I was creating some kind synth music that my friends would classify as a ‘mix of synthpop / synthwave anthems’. They then introduced me to synthwave music which was interesting.”

But there is more to come from this most promising of European synth songstresses. Already in the can, ‘All Day, All Night’ is a discowave tune with great crossover potential; drenched in sparkle and a delicious rhythmic base, it’s one for fans of early PET SHOP BOYS.

It all bodes well for her debut album produced by Robert Harder who worked on David Byrne & Brian Eno’s acclaimed 2008 second album ‘Everything That Happens Will Happen Today’; he also produced the 2012 Neneh Cherry long player ‘The Cherry Thing’.

There are the ubiquitous ‘Blade Runner’ references, but that rainy dystopian air is also countered at regular intervals by an enigmatic allure and a mischievously wired dancefloor friendly groove.


‘Moving Spaces’ is released as a digital single on 22nd January 2021, pre-save at https://hypeddit.com/link/gzw0y3 or pre-order from https://lauradre.bandcamp.com/

https://lauradre.com/

https://www.facebook.com/lauradreofficial

https://www.instagram.com/lauradre/

https://twitter.com/LauraDreMusic

https://www.twitch.tv/lauradreofficial

https://soundcloud.com/lauradre

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-i6CW5oGLsKIOOIHV9sEHA/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/1AdbxZ3LVADmRfwzJxZwrS


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Wiebke Kreinick
13th January 2021

Introducing IŻOL

Poland is not normally on par with the European electronica, however acts like ZAMILSKA managed to break the cycle and establish themselves outside the heart shaped Central European nation.

That said, the country has always been massively into synth music, with enormous fan bases for DEPECHE MODE, ERASURE and CAMOUFLAGE, amongst many other acts of the golden electronic era.

IŻOL is Robert Jeżewski, an accomplished songwriter and producer, having founded a popular Polish DM tribute band ICE MACHINE, which evolved into an original band with four albums under their belt.

Having gone solo, Jeżewski continued the electro trend, releasing two albums ‘The Vagabond’s Wish’ (2017) and ‘Control’ (2019). Based in gloomy Silesia, a place which RATIONAL YOUTH once wrote a synthpop cult classic about, IŻOL is no stranger to melancholic soundscapes, often being based on the provisions from his idols, presented in a fresh and progressive manner.

‘A Lonely House’ is a belter, merging the artist’s love of DEPECHE MODE, with a pinch of CAMOUFLAGE and sounding very similar to Germany’s MINERVE. Preserving the tradition of ultra-melodic ditties, wrapped in a thin veil of nostalgia, with expertly written lyrics and more than decent vocal, the Pole gives many of his contemporaries a run for their money, including those in the UK.

Add a clever video, and you get yourself a powerful addition to your synth favourites. And if you’re stuck for live music during lockdowns, IŻOL performed an online gig this year too. TERAZ POLSKA!


‘A Lonely House’ is from the various artists compilation ‘Neonautics v.03’ released by skyQode, available direct from https://skyqode.bandcamp.com/track/a-lonely-house

Other IŻOL releases can be purchased from https://icemachineshop.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/izol.official/

https://www.instagram.com/jezewski.robert/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3r3URmy6Ysa1jSwZNfPmrE


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
31st December 2020

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