Daughter, the trio of London-based vocalist and guitarist Elena Tonra, electric guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella, brings to the world painfully beautiful songs. Their sound is a refreshing mix of folk, tender acoustic and ambient soundscapes. However, it’s the wistful lyrics and Elena’s haunting vocals that create the magic, which will send shivers down your spine.
The duo of Ukrainian guys 5’nizza (pronounced pyatnitsa) experiments with layers of vocals and an acoustic guitar like no-one else. Harmonizing the most unexpected, humming, rappin’ and improvising, they bring a smile to your face. Using human voice they create the best quality break-beat rhythms, instrumentation of drums and trumpets. 5’nizza throws together reggae-like sounds, rock influences, bossa nova melodies, random energetic ska, enjoyable hip hop and the greatest fun from Eastern European underground.
Alex Brown Church, the man at the helm of Sea Wolf, enlisted the help of other members of the Ship (a collective of bands and artists in the LA area), to flesh out the tracks on his debut album Leaves in the River. The well-crafted and detailed album is testament to Church’s discerning ear and his years of songwriting with the band Irving. The darkly emotive songs are forlorn and soothing at once, a characteristic that makes the record one of my favorites of this year.
Scott Hansen fosters an ambiance causing me to envision a chilled-out, trippy escapade through Fraggle Rock; perhaps after eating too many Doozer buildings. Like the complex, symbiotic relationships and events intertwined in their colorful, simply-presented world, there are many elements combined in Tycho to nurture a magic, enveloping presence.
I don’t know how it happened, but I swear my music taste is far more European than American. Music from Reykjavik, Copenhagen, and Brighton excites me much more than another band from the US – and I fear it’s not the innate exoticism of foreign entertainment. I suppose there may be different goals – music that aims to be beautiful, music meant to express thought, music to shake your ass to. Each culture exudes music that reflects it. I was introduced to Mig by my favorite Frenchman, Garrincha from Orchestrated Rise To Fall. The french group creates a warm sound that blends eastern elements and western sophistication, highlighted nicely in these tracks. They mix together wistful Nelly Furtado-like vocals and a soulful body of sound: naked acoustic guitar, synthesized electronic accoutrements, and a round bassline. Morcheeba in the Middle East.
Femme fatale, enchanting heroine of film noir, Bernadette Seacrest, creates mystery around her. Following jazz vocal standards and torch singing without the syrup sweetness in it, she sings to rip your heart out. Dark vintage jazz blends with the modern, drenches with her sultry voice and noir atmosphere of a smoky bar.
Funky sample heaven. C-Mon and Kypski is a German Dutch (thanks, guys!) group that throw together incredible constructions of samples and breakbeats into some very accessible and groovalicious tunes. From their website: “Their energy – containing musical ancestors such as jazz, hip hop, soul, funk and more – is definitely exploring new territories while staying continuously dynamic.” I like that. And damn it, I like this song: “Shittybum” (featured earlier on Waxy) would blow me away by itself, but it’s completely overshadowed by the coolest music video ever. Wait up for the Space Invaders sequence. It’s badassss.
Spike Jones, watcho’self. This music video is one of the freshest bits of musical/video artistry I’ve seen.
Set adrift on an open sea of morning sunsets; wrapped in silk sheets with bubbly sounds permeating your skin’s pores; Marsen Jules’ Les Fleurs pulls its way into every nerve of your body – wrestling gently with layers deep inside, feeding your heart impulses of tranquility, while soothing and effortlessly lifting away the surface of every day. Escape, forget, dream.
Running in a similar vein to the cartoony electronic duo Toy, Podington Bear delights ears in crafting accessible and dynamic dream pop. Podington is a bear from Portland, Oregon. A bear who makes a new song for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Typically, such prolificacy would indicate the songs must be subpar, but Bear surprised my expectations. The samples and synths aren’t anything innovative, but the songwriting reminds me of producers like William Orbit and Kaskade.
Turns out that Nick Waterhouse’s vintage R&B and early rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic isn’t limited to his throwback ’50s sound. His entire approach to production follows this same faithfulness — Time’s All Gone, the 25 year old’s debut album, was recorded mostly live, entirely to tape, and it certainly pays off. The album pops with barely restrained wildness and energy that’s infectious and addicting. Whether it’s the blaring horns, catchy hooks, or Waterhouse’s crooning vocals; there’s a lot to love about this record. Take his music for a spin and join the party!