Turkish singer Sirma is only 24 years old, but she has already lived several different lives in music. She began her career early on as a classically trained pianist, transitioned into jazz singing in high school, recorded with Akon and Keri Hilson as the Turkish representative on the official 2010 World Cup theme, and joined an experimental rock band in Boston before finally striking out on her own. You can hear echoes of her former musical ventures here and there on her new EP Instincts, but its main focus is juxtaposing elegant pop hooks with aggressive electronics and an intriguing hint of Turkish classical music.
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Rapper Buck 65 has made his name on dense wordplay and music that pushes against expectations of how hip-hop should sound. Choosing to concentrate on abstract metaphors and dropping odd country-rap fusions years before “hick-hop” became a thing has kept him closer to cult status than mainstream success, but for his latest song and video, from his upcoming album Neverlove (out Sept. 30), Buck offers a glimpse at what might have been if he’d pursued a more pop-friendly route.
“After my wife left,” he writes in an email, “I met a girl who I was hoping would give me hugs and kisses. I was a bit desperate for affection. I figured I might get lucky if I made a song she liked, so I asked her about her taste in music. She listed off all the things she likes about the music she dances to in clubs and I wrote it all down. I still have the piece of paper. She mentioned lyrics with ‘la la la’ parts, four-on-the-floor beats, classic house music, mentions of birthdays and getting dressed up, ‘build ups,’ as she put it, shiny synth sounds, breakdowns, ‘rainbows’ (I wasn’t sure what she meant by that), and lots of hooks. It all went into the blender.”
New York City electropop quartet HAERTS went from utter obscurity to an extraordinary amount of attention in a very short time after releasing their first single back in 2012. Their forthcoming self-titled debut album, which drops Oct. 28, has turned out to be one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year, and the lead single, “Giving Up,” proves it’s worth believing the hype: a propulsive stroboscopic synthesizer provides a launch pad for delicately arranged layers of chiming guitars, airy synths, and a vocal melody delivered by vocalist Nini Fabi that builds to a sublime climax, delivering the gravity-defying sensation of a perfectly crafted pop tune.
Jeffrey Innes is best known as frontman for the quirky Canadian indie rock outfit Yukon Blonde, which, typical of a band of its stature (an underground act in America but capable of charting in Canada), spends a lot of time on the road. During an atypical period with nothing YB-related to do, Innes launched a solo project that he calls High Ends.
On Oct. 7, he’ll release High Ends’ 10-song self-titled debut album on Dine Alone Records. One of the tracks is “Cappuccino,” a synth-heavy tribute to caffeinated beverages that recalls idiosyncratic pop acts like Pulp and Sparks.
Larkin Poe is a duo from Atlanta comprised of sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell and named for a distant relative who was himself distantly related to Edgar Allen Poe. The sisters share an infatuation with roots sounds, frequently incorporating traditional song structures and instruments like the mandolin and Dobro into their music, but they also boast strong pop instincts. On Oct. 14, they’ll release their new album, Kin, in Restoration Hardware stores, with a broader release a week later. The first single, “Don’t,” pulls from rock’s earliest days, mixing it with a stomping glam rock beat and a country-inflected pop melody.
LA’s Allah-Las are one of the few bands in existence that can come off as brain-meltingly psychedelic and totally chill at the exact same time. With the jangly guitars and vocal harmonies of a ’60s folk rock group and the hippie-fied, mind-expanding quality of a Carlos Castaneda book, they’ve spent the past few years instigating a cosmic takeover of the underground garage rock scene.
Their latest single, “Buffalo Nickel,” from their upcoming sophomore album Worship the Sun (out Sept. 16 on Innovative Leisure), is a fantastic place to jump on their trip. The video, made using the same handmade stop-motion techniques that were popular 50 years ago, makes a perfect accompaniment to the song’s slightly rough-hewn psychedelia.
Kandace Springs is a young musician, but she seems to have more in common with artists from before the Internet upended the music industry. Her break didn’t come through social media, but by blowing away music heavyweights like Prince and Don Was with virtuosic interpretations of songs by Bonnie Raitt and Sam Smith. And while her style is deeply indebted to ’70s soul music, she’s not a purely retro act—for her debut LP, out next spring, she’s put together a production and songwriting team whose members have previously worked with CeeLo Green, Alicia Keys, and Bruno Mars.
In the meantime, Springs is releasing a self-titled four-song EP on Sept. 30. Lead single “West Coast,” produced by the duo Pop and Oak—who’ve worked with Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Usher—is buoyant neosoul that combines a rollicking horn arrangement and a bumping rap beat. Springs makes her TV debut Oct. 3 on Letterman. READ FULL STORY
Delta Spirit have a talent for recreating the feel of classic rock styles–particularly the more psychedelic ones–without sticking too closely to their aesthetic playbooks, which is a remarkable quality in a rock scene that often seems to have traded innovation for making the most accurate emulations possible of sounds from the genre’s past. The lead single from their upcoming fourth album, Into the Wide (out Sept. 9 on Dualtone Records), has a widescreen scope but is still packed with hooks, especially in the searing bent-note lead that soars over the composition.
For the video, director Andrew Bruntel goes for a similarly epic sweep, with a disparate cast of characters living very diferent lives on the prairies of southeastern Colorado. “If I could parse it down to one simple theme,” he writes, “it would be vulnerability. Vulnerability in friendships, in our relationships with family and with the pets/animals that we allow into our lives.” It’s gorgeous and triumphant and sad all at the same time, much like the song itself.
Anders Trentemøller is a Danish electronic musician who’s known for blending cutting-edge electronic production with dark and moody post-punk, resulting in tracks that can make a grown-up goth kid weak in the knees. For his last album, Lost, he took a more indie-friendly approach, collaborating with members of Lower Dens, Low, and the Raveonettes. On Sept. 1, he’ll release a set of remixes of Lost songs, including his own reworking of “Come Undone” featuring vocals by Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead. The accompanying video, by director Andreas Emenius, pairs the track’s shimmering electro-funk with greyscale footage of a diver in slow motion, creating a moody, nearly abstract juxtaposition that the old Factory Records creative team would have been proud of.
After a solid decade as the go-to soundtrack for disaffected youth, emo has pretty much suffocated itself beneath a mountain of asymmetrical haircuts, metalcore breakdowns, and barely sublimated misogyny, and few people are in mourning over it. However, there’s a growing wave of young musicians who are throwing out the subgenre’s recent history and returning to the core values that defined it in the ’90s (before it was absorbed by Hot Topic), fusing punk’s energy and DIY ethos with the swooning romanticism of a teenage Smiths fan and the delicate melodies of a ’70s singer-songwriter.
Philly’s Modern Baseball is at the leading edge of this movement, and may be the most accessible to pop fans who don’t know or don’t care that there’s even an emo revival happening. Their latest single, “Pothole,” foregoes the pop-punk tendencies that define much of their material in favor of lightly fingerpicked acoustic guitar and nakedly raw vocals, to subtly powerful effect. The video, made largely out of footage filmed on one of their tours, highlights the energy that the band and their community of fans produce together at their shows, as well as the monotony of life on the road.
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