Lockdown gave us lots of time for inner reflection and like many others, we reached out to listen to more gentle genres of music to calm our overstressed minds.
One such artist we took delight in, is multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer TomAshbrook. His filmic EP titled ‘koːda’ explores new variations of ‘Klass’, (a track taken from his 2020 album ‘Sensibus’), to create a collaborative new body of work, all stemming from the original melody ideas.
The second track from the EP, ‘tu ː orbit’ features guest vocalist Faroese singer-songwriter Greta Svabo Bech. Known for her vocal collaboration with Ludovico Einaudi with ‘Circles’, performance on Deadmau5’s ‘Raise Your Weapon, the pair combine to create an emotionally rich, delicate blend of Ashbrook’s signature classical influence with Greta’s ethereal tones.
Everything is far from ok at the moment, but perhaps we need a bit of light relief ahead of the weekend.
Cue PhilGood and his overtly optimistic attitude to what’s going on at the moment. Remember, someone always has it worse than you, so appreciate what you have. You can watch the Joren Cull-animated visuals below.
Sounds like: Honne, Joseph Salvat, Miike Snow, Glass Animals, Joywave, Just Kiddin’, San Holo
Our favourte band in the UK right now, Sea Girls, share the visuals for ‘Do You Really Wanna Know?’.
Blurring the lines between reality and fansity, and touching on the topic of mental health, the video – directed by world class animator Francesca de Bassa – takes the band’s own self isolated photography and brings them to life as kaleidoscopic, animated collages.
Sounds like: Marsicans, The Maccabees, Bombay Bicycle Club, Swimming Tapes, Slow Riot, Two Door Cinema Club, Sundara Karma
Gia Woods is an emerging voice in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as in the pop sphere.
As a queer, Persian woman, born into a traditional Persian household in Los Angeles, Woods grew up a loner and used this time to make music. Her latest single, ‘Naive’ touches on the subject of discovering what you want out of an intimate relationship.
Remix connaisseur Macious has turned himself to Kidnap‘s classic track, ‘Start Again’.
As one of his biggest musical inspirations, the opportunity to remix the nostalgic original came about during a time when Macious was going through some exhausting changes. It’s offered as a free download.
Swiss jazz/soul collective Sirens of Lesbos shares ‘How Many Miles’.
Originally written about travelling the world with their future children, the song has since taken on an unexpected, larger meaning due to current travel restrictions. For those eager eared, it features some reworking of lyrics from The Fugees‘ ‘How Many Mics’.
Los Angeles-based vocalist, songwriter and alternative producer Jens Kuross has just released the shadowy single, ‘Done With Dancing’, a new stripped-down take of the track ‘Yard Two Stone’ that he collaborated on with Lane 8 last December.
Having toured the world as the drummer for RY X, Howling, and The Acid (a supergroup comprised of DJ/Producer Adam Freeland, Californian polymath Steve Nalepa, and RY X – who Jens also performs with as an active member of), as well as supported Bonobo, Rhye, GoGoPenguin and RY X, it’s time for Jens to step forward.
First on the list is his playlist called “Jens Friends”. You can check it out below.
Fred and Luna – Mini Song
This was the first song on the first release from a label my good friend Frank Wiedemann started a couple of years ago. It’s very minimal but it really makes the most out of all of its elements. There are no wasted sounds. It sounds like it could simultaneously be a Kraftwerk b-side from 1980 and also a hip new track on some indie-electronic playlist on Spotify…wait…
Point Lobo – Platform
Producer, Engineer, Drummer Miles Senzaki is great at everything he does. And I should know as he’s engineered almost all of my own recordings. His solo project “Point Lobo” is a perfect distillation of his love of Prince, TalkingHeads and I don’t know what else really. It’s beautifully done and impeccably crafted.
Human Barbie – Don’t Run Away
Human Barbie is the brainchild of Bassist, songwriter, producer Chris Hackman. Chris and I met when we were fresh out of school and still playing jazz gigs to make a living, then somehow migrated into the indie-electronic scene together. This project has its fingers in some 60’s psych-rock but Chris also tastily brings some of his jazz sensibilities to bear here.
Tyler Chester – Setting
I knew of Tyler for a while before he and I met, primarily from his work with Blake Mills but he and I eventually ended up collaborating on a track that’s on his most recent record. This track, “Setting”, is from that same record. It has some really beautiful but dirty synth tones that make you feel like you’re listening to Vangelis if he was doing all his composing in a dusty basement with a bunch of broken gear that’s just barely clinging to life.
Howling – Lullaby
This is my favorite track off the Howling album “Sacred Ground”. Probably because I helped write it and I’m feeling a little shameless. “Write” might actually be a generous term here as it was almost entirely improvised. We were all just in a room jamming and Frank (Wiedemann) hit record in the middle of it. Then I came back around later and layered some synth pads. It’s probably the only song you’ll ever hear on an electronic dance record that wasn’t tracked to click.
The Acid – Onyx
This is another song I helped write. I’m super proud of the piano part I played. It’s an odd phrase length but it feels entirely natural and it ended up being the germ that inspired the whole song. The Acid boys ended up going for the jugular in the build and outro which wouldn’t have been my first choice but it definitely works and you can’t argue with the results.
GF3 – Prelude 5
I produced a couple of EP’s for some friends of mine in a jazz trio who wanted their jazz record to sound nothing like a jazz record. I’m super proud of how it all turned out but this might be my favorite offering from that little experiment. It’s the most stripped back of all the recordings but I think the subtle, understated effects on very delicately performed acoustic instruments yielded some really beautiful results.
Nalepa – A Study of Dreams
Steve Nalepa is the secret weapon behind so many amazing electronic tracks that you’ve probably heard. Working with him has really taught me a lot about the beauty and potential of raw sound. My tendency is to get a little lost in the weeds of music theory land and Steve can bring me back to earth by just producing some amazing sound that, once heard, inspires you to write a whole song if not a whole record.
Jeff Parker – Executive Life
I don’t know Jeff, but I do know some of the guys that played on this record. I think this is just a really creative example of incorporating sampling and electronic musical techniques into a jazz/improvisatory context. Usually, attempts at jazz-electronic synthesis go horribly wrong, ending up in the nauseatingly bland category of “smooth”, but the results here are phenomenal.
Louis Cole – Big Green Suitcase
Louis and I both got our start playing drums in the LA jazz scene but he had a bead on his artistic persona long before I could really figure mine out. This might be my favorite track from his eponymous first album. It really captures all of his quirky, beautiful, sincerity and adds a tinge of nostalgia with that pseudo-Bossa Nova drum machine pattern and the line-cliché in the piano.
UK producer Mazoulew takes inspiration from various genres such as trip-hop, Motown, acid jazz and drum&bass.
His new single ‘Retrospective’ leans to the more ambient electronica instrumental with a focus on leaving the city and heading to the great unknown. To coincide with its release, he has put together an eclectic mix of songs for an Indietronica playlist.
You’ll be surprised at what songs he’s chosen!
Fugees – The Mask
The score was actually the first record I ever bought, I paid £1.5 in a charity shop for the cassette that I played so much it wore out completely. Definitely a defining album for me personally.
DJ Shadow – Building Steam With A Grain Of
I mean, Shadow kinda set the pace for the rest of us back in the day, what he did with the Endtroducing record was just beyond anything else at the time.
Massive Attack – Dissolved Girl
This album sounds as good today as it did 22 years ago when they dropped it, there is nothing else to say, it’s just a masterpiece and it truly opened my eyes and ears to new ideas.
RJD2 – Smoke & Mirrors
Like Shadow, RJD2 just shows you how it should be done, his approach to sampling and composition is second to none. His music has consistently stayed at the forefront of my life since I was introduced to him in the early 2000’s.
Eskmo – Cloudlight
I remember the first time I heard this track it was so fresh and inspiring to me. Most artists nowadays fall into traps within genres, Eskmo punch a hole in this for me and delivered a sound that I never really thought about before.
Gonzales – Overnight
I had to include this record as I think we can sometimes get a bit lost with the production and technology available to us, we can now manipulate and modulate anything into anything. Personally I think it’s important not to lose the fundamental of great composition and harmony.
Amon Tobin – Lost and Found
Amon is another producer that changed my life and my music tastes forever. His ability to reimagine sounds, manipulate source material, taking things that were never designed to go together and make them sound like they had always been that way is simply inspired.
Brushy One String – Grays in My Blues
I included Brushy for much the same reasons that I included Gonzales. When I heard this record a few things struck me, the fact that it is recorded on the side of the road and that brushy only has one string on a beat-up guitar. There is nothing fancy, no tricks or anything to hide behind, it’s just emotion and art in a very pure form.
Foreign Beggars – One Take
It’s with a heavy heart that yesterday I learned my friend Ebow Graham (Metropolis) passed away. The Foreign Beggars made a huge impact on my life and my music. I played ‘Asylum Speakers’ over and over while I was studying, then when I moved to London and actually became friends with these guys I felt incredibly honoured and lucky to have them in my life.
Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World
It’s a strange time to be alive in 2020, every day you can turn on the news and for one reason or another there is reason to get a little stressed out with things, to say the least. I think we all need to remember, between all the headlines and noise, there really is some amazing stuff happening in the world still and we should all take a minute sometimes to stop and appreciate it.
Sounds like: Bicep, Kidnap, Model Man, Lane 8, Jamie xx
Cactus? is an innovative three-piece band from the industrial plains of Northern Italy.
Combining influences from the dance-punk phenomenon of mid-00s with the current Lo-fi Bedroom movement, adding to the mix 80s synths and samples – their new single ‘Shitdisco’, out now via Costello’s Records, is full of frenetic and unpredictable energy of crazy synths and poppy vocals.
Sounds like: Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Bloc Party
Indie-pop savant Stevie wolf is paving the way with his refreshing approach to unconstrained honesty.
Diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and major anxiety disorder, as well as meeting a lot of set backs when it comes to making music, hasn’t stopped him exploring the constaints of both personal and societal expectations.
Introducing the new project by Pietro Filippone – aka uomo.
His latest release, ‘All I Hear’, is the first song that Filippone has written by himself for the project. A decent bit of autotune in there, the softer house elements give the song a gorgeously gentle uplift.
Sounds like: Henry Green, Roosevelt, Goldroom, Hayden James, Elderbrook
DJ and producer Amtrac has teamed up with Grammy Award-winning British musician, DJ and producer Alex Metric on vocals in new single, ‘So Afraid’.
Looping vocals contemplate a simple question, “why you so afraid of love?” as Alex Metric’s breathy, enunciated voice lends an edge to the droning synths beneath, forming a steady crescendo of sound and passion that blooms.
UK duo Dirty Nice releases ‘100,000 Heartbeats’. A synth-wave pop at the core, it’s the perfect counterpart to the more lo-fi B-side, ‘Love Team’.
Originally presented as a special Valentines Day release, Dirty Nice sent a number of personalised cards to fans. Continuing this theme on their Instagram, an intergalactic cartoon epic has unfolded with a new card revealed every day.
Sounds like: Elder Island, Camel Power Club, Gorillaz, Everyone You Know, 10 O’Clock Chemical
Rising Danish pop songstress ELBA is making waves.
Starting her musical journey in the local choir at the age of six, it was clear her destiny was singing. Her new single ‘Remember Me’ showcases her powerful vocal range, and perfectly fits with the electro-pop production.
The Norweigan artists are smashing it this week, and it’s truly great to see Emilie Nicolas return.
Showing a new side to her music – less “cool pop” and more reflective – ‘Who’s Gonna Love You’ is centred around the difficulties of letting go of a relationship, succinctly capturing despair, unbridled joy, and the desire to dance.
London based electronic duo Solomon Grey returns with the breathtaking new single called ‘Interstate 695’, showcasing the first in a selection of new works culminating in the forthcoming EP ‘Music For Picture: Vol. I (Parallels)’ released on 27 March.
Soundtrack ready, the new single is dynamic, an ethereal track with bold analogue synths, pulsing drums, wide strings and other orchestral score elements. Inspiration for the song came from Solomon Grey’s soundtrack work, in their words “we played with the idea of watching films of our childhood. Inspired by our youth and looking at it from where we are now. What did that innocence mean to us now, and how would we score it.”
Sounds like: Aquilo, Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, Ásgeir, Chet Faker, James Vincent McMorrow, Hozier, Lane 8, The National, Son Lux, M83, James Blake, Bon Iver
Roland Tings is one of our favourite Australian producers of the moment.
A euphoric number at its heart, ‘Up Close’ by Roland Tings is the third single to be taken from his forthcoming ‘Salt Water’ LP, and a reassuring late-night potion.
Speaking on the process behind ‘Up Close’ and its positioning on the album, Tings explains, “I knew that I needed a really euphoric track in the first half of the record to propel the LP forwards. When I heard the original vocal by Alyss, I knew that it was perfect for what I wanted. The production of her voice was psychedelic, and the lyrics fit with exactly what I wanted the record to say.”
Inspired by life on the road, Newman decided to record much of the new album in relative isolation from a rented home on the Great Ocean Road near Melbourne. Immersed in his studio and buried in his work, he came up for air and returned to the environments that first inspired the album. “I put the demo on my phone and drove around the winding coastal road near my house, making mental notes on how it felt as I drove,” he says. “I could hear everything that needed to happen in the track. I rushed home, made the changes and then got in the car again. I repeated this for hours, driving this crazy road away from my house, then back again to make the changes I could hear in my head.”
‘Up Close’ is out now via Sony/Cascine.
Sounds like: Lane 8, Four Tet, Tame Impala, Rufus Du Sol, Caribou, Bicep, Dusky, TSHA
Hip hop DJ-turned writer and producer. Luke Wylde, and Australian singer-songwriter Rhea Robertson, are both giving you the opportunity to face your demons and finally be honest about with your feelings in new song ‘Save Yourself’.
The combination of Robertson’s dreamy jazz undertones and alt-pop sounds with Wylde’s bluesy interlude makes for an enticing track.
If things are getting tired, change it up. Wise words from Los Angeles-based Benji Lewis indeed.
His nostalgic new single ‘Fast Foward’ is the first taste of a brand new five-track EP that Lewis has planned for release in early 2020, it features the slick production of Los Angeles artist Kid Froopy and it also comes with a visually stunning Chris Weigen-directed music video.
Sounds like: The 1975, The Kite String Tangle, Antony Hegarty, Active Child, Gallant, Sam Smith, Solomon Grey, James Blake, Yazz, Jack Garratt, Disclosure
Nick Anthony – When I’m Gone (feat. Chloe Gendrow)
Artists these just seem to get younger and younger, and Nick Anthony at just 19-years of age has not only found success as a dance producer but soon realised that his talents have overflowed from dance into poppier, crossover sounds – which has become a sound distinctly his.
His latest, ‘When I’m Gone’, which features the vocal talents of Chloe Gendrow and taken from his forthcoming EP is the next chapter in his ever-evolving sound and sets and irrefutable mood.