In 2011 Kate Akhurst moved from Australia to Stockholm, Sweden in search of musical collaborators with more in common with her aesthetic vision than she could find at home. Producers Hampus Nordgren and Markus Dextegen seem to have fit the bill, bringing a quintessentially Swedish flavor to the electronic arrangements they bring to their group Kate Boy. “Open Fire,” from their upcoming debut LP, has all the sonic ambition of The Knife mixed with pop hooks worthy of Max Martin.
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Brazilian quartet Wannabe Jalva hail from southern Brazil, near the country’s borders with Argentina and Uruguay, and not coincidentally, their music largely forgoes the tropical flavor the country’s best known for in favor of a more sere sonic approach that seems to reflect their proximity to the Pampas. Their latest EP, Collecture (out Oct. 15), offers a compellingly austere take on psych rock that avoids the clichéd gaudiness that often afflicts the form, and brings to mind The Strokes as often as it does Os Mutantes or Pink Floyd. Run through with heavy, Jodorowsky-esque mysticism, the album’s a straight up trip.
“We’ve extracted moods and textures from ourselves and put them out there in an almost collective epiphany,” guitarist Tiago Abrahão emails from Brazil. “Nature comes from the fact that we realized that the right path (the essence) was to lock ourselves in there (in the basement) and just get out when we all felt fulfilled (and, at the same time, empty from those temporarily undefined urges).” Maybe a tough statement to wrap your head around, but once you put Collecture on, it makes more sense than you might expect.
Over the past few years, Iceland has emerged as an unlikely indie rock hotbed. Sigur Rós remains the best known of Iceland’s bands, but there are a bunch coming up in their wake, including Reykjavik duo Ourlives. The pair consider themselves indebted to acts like Coldplay and Radiohead, but on their upcoming album Den of Lions (out Oct. 14 on Spartan Records and available for pre-order on iTunes and vinyl), they aim for something less ostentatiously grand but just as interesting, and on the track “Blurry Eyes,” they sound almost like a dreamier, less anxiety-ridden version of Interpol.
Member Jón Björn Árnason calls the track “a song we wrote about addiction. It’s about addiction being an easy escape from the everyday life—and about being afraid to face each day and the duties that come with it. The lyric ‘blue heaven’ is a reference to the way the summer is in Iceland, as it doesn’t stay dark very long—in fact, the sun is up most of the night.”
Michelle Chamuel’s best known for her second-place finish on season four of The Voice. But she was already a fairly well-established independent musician before the show, and she’s continued to work steadily after, releasing EDM under the name Reverb Junkie. Despite her sizable catalog of work, her upcoming Face the Fire (due out next February on The End Records) is Chamuel’s first official solo album to be released under her own name.
The titular lead single promises good things for the full-length—with its big hooks, eccentric sounds, and spark-throwing energy, it sits somewhere between Taylor Swift and Le Tigre.
Chamuel writes in an email, “‘Face the Fire’ is about the innate desire in you to go for it and follow your passion. It can be daunting—but at some point you just start going after what you burn for. That’s facing the fire.” The song will be available for purchase tomorrow, Oct. 7, but you can hear it here first.
Butch Walker‘s been knocking around the music biz since the late ’80s, playing in bands, recording solo records, and writing and producing for a bewildering array of artists ranging from Bowling for Soup to Taylor Swift. After spending so much time he’s somewhat predictably developed a jaded view of the whole machine, which is probably why he gets along so well with similarly seen-it-all types like Ryan Adams, who produced his new album, Afraid of Ghosts, and Johnny Depp, who plays on it.
But like a lot of guys who like to project a sardonic front, Walker’s kind of a softie at heart, which comes through loud and clear on the Ghosts track “Chrissie Hynde.” It’s an aching, country-tinged ballad about a universal condition: the desire to give the world the middle finger and just put on some Pretenders records.
Folk music’s having a moment right now–maybe its biggest in decades–but the twee, indie-cute slant of its most visible contemporary proponents has a tendency to leave fans of its gnarlier, more twisted roots feeling cold. To fans of folk’s darker side, Joe Fletcher’s You’ve Got the Wrong Man should come as a bracing breath of fresh air–or if not “fresh” than “intriguingly dusty,” like the atmosphere in a junk store full of beat-up old treasures.
Fletcher is part of a loosely affiliated community of insurgent folk artists who are working to counter the effects of Mumfordism. His third LP, recorded solo to tape in multiple locations around the country, has the no-fi production values of a Lomax field recording, the hardscrabble allure of Springsteen’s Nebraska, and the gritty tunefulness of Mississippi John Hurt.
Fletcher will release You’ve Got the Wrong Man on Oct. 7, and it’s available for pre-order now. Until then you can stream the album here.
Marco Benevento’s new album Swift is a bliss-inducing swirl of electronic sounds, fuzzy organic instruments, and catchy melodies that floats somewhere in between Animal Collective and Dan Deacon–music that works equally well for dancing or for spacing out and watching the clouds go by. Last fall Benevento lay down on his skateboard to get a different perspective on the changing leaves in his upstate New York hometown, which ended up inspiring the video he made for the Swift song “Witches of Ulster.” Incorporating hundreds of drawings by director/animator Anne Beal the clip has the same gentle energy and unfussy, handmade feel as the music it accompanies.
Milezo is the high school nickname of Austin musician Miles Kelley as well as the name of the band that he formed at the University of Texas before he dropped out to pursue music full-time. That plan seems to be working out, as psych rock fans have started to catch on to the blend of bubblegummy pop and far-out vibes that Kelley and company have refined over the span of seven albums and three EPs. Their latest single, “Kiss You All,” drips with lysergic weirdness but still lands its hooks, giving it the feel of a bad trip that’s somehow still kinda fun (not to mention a cross between Thee Oh Sees and the Banana Splits). For the accompanying video, the band dons face paint and takes to the stars for an intensely cosmic faux talk show appearance. Groovy.
In their separate ventures, Stars of the Lid’s Brian McBride and Furry Things’s Kenneth James Gibson are heavily influenced by uncommercial styles like dub, minimal techno, and drone. Together, under the name Bell Gardens, they make music that they claim is “more of an experiment than [their] current ‘experimental’ projects,” but the pair are blessed with pop sensibilities that they can’t seem to repress.
“She’s Stuck In the Endless Loop of Her Decline,” from their upcoming LP Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions (out Oct. 28), has enough delicate sonic textures to satisfy their more avant-garde-inclined fans wrapped around an unhurried, tuneful folk melody that you don’t need to know what “minimal techno” even means in order to enjoy.
Rio-based electronic producer Leo Justi is far from a household name, but his star is most assuredly on the rise. He’s a leading figure in a Rio-based style called “heavy baile” that builds off the foundation of Brazilian baile funk–aka funk carioca, aka favela funk, aka the stuff M.I.A. emulated on “Bucky Done Gun”–but manages to incorporate everything from drum ‘n’ bass to heavy metal. It could be the next regional style to blow up on the global EDM scene, with A-Trak a fan and M.I.A. flying Justi out to India to record.
The title of Justi’s latest track, “Devils Horns,” from his HVY BL NSS PRR EP for the Waxploitation label, may be a nod to heavy baile’s heavier influences, or it could refer to the menacing brass stabs scattered throughout the track, or maybe both. Either way, the song’s got intensity to spare–it sounds like just the type of thing to turn a dance party into a full-blown riot.
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