Joan as Police Woman’s (AKA Joan Wasser) new single “Shame” splits the difference between torch balladry and Diana Ross-style badassery. It takes some serious chutzpah to compare yourself to Jesus. This goes double when the proclamation is made in the same devil-may-care doo-wop style that may forever be haunted by Amy Winehouse’s tattoo-covered spirit. But playing dress-up in the genre works for her. While she probably won’t steal any crowns (of thrones or otherwise), “Shame” is a hip-swinging dance party in the making that’s impossible to resist. —Words by Laura Studarus
Joan as Police Woman’s fourth album The Classic is out now. “Shame” will see the light of day on September 1.
Who knew? Having spent the last several years cultivating his interest in house music, (including a flirtation with EDM in his 2010 album, Last Train To Paris), legendary rapper and entrepreneur Puff Daddy resolved to produce his first solely electronic album. He then recruited Israeli DJ/producer Guy Gerber to help carry out this mission, which culminated in the brand new album, 11 11. Puffy’s vocals are slick and understated beneath Gerber’s atmospheric synthesis of shoegaze with club-friendly deep house cuts. The full album is now available for free download via Beatport. Stream “My Heart” below:
As the resurgence of shoegaze grips Japan, Kinoko Teikoku are among its most thrilling practitioners. Kinoko Teikoku’s rise is due in part to the quartet’s intense live show, which has earned the band a spot on stages at some of Japan’s biggest festivals, including this month’s Rock In Japan, as well as two well-received tours in Canada. But their recordings are just as smoldering. Their next release will be the single “Tokyo,” due on September 9th.
Kiasmos’ debut album effortlessly unspools. A swelling synth. A light wash of strings. A glitchy beat fading in and out as if their haunting compositions were blessed by the ghosts of techno past. It’s almost hard to believe that the hectic schedules of bandmates Janus Rasmussen (Bloodgroup) and Ólafur Arnalds (of, well, Ólafur Arnalds) forced the duo to write and record together during a very short period in April. Then again, maybe genius doesn’t need time — just a well organized iCal.
Catfish and the Bottlemen opened for The 1975 on their UK tour last year, and it appears that they’re on the very same lightning-fast road to fame. Truthfully, though, that’s where the similarities end. The 1975 is all ’80s synth pop and wine-soaked tales of lust, while Catfish and the Bottlemen are churning out straight-up old-school rock n’ roll about breaking hearts and making out. After a stint opening for the Manchester rockers — and playing 100 shows in 18 months — they hit the road again to promote their recently-dropped debut EP, The Balcony.
It was over a year ago that Wannabe Jalva decided that it was high time for a hiatus. But in 2013 they crossed paths with Eddie Vedder, who greeted them after their amp-climbing, freewheeling performance at Lollapalooza Brazil. “Keep on stage guys,” he said warmly, “Keep making music.” It’s good to see that a year after their hiatus, the band is back in session. Frontman Rafael Rocha offered up his parents’ basement, where their upcoming album, Collecture, was born. There, they shed their previous inclinations towards penning infectious, punchy dance jams and embraced a more cosmic, Space Age energy.
Maybe they were aiming more for aberration than rarity with their name, but the latter is super applicable to punk trio The Anomalys. There are a bunch of blunders they could have made in meshing together their various motifs, and they didn’t. The Anomalys are true exceptions. The Dutch band oozes spookiness without sounding like a drugstore’s Halloween display, and fury without senseless anger. Their latest includes the cut “Deadline Blues,” which treads around like a gruesome ghoul in a swamp that belches hallucinogenic gas.
There’s still an air of mystery about the 23 year old Russian/English singer-songwriter, but after she got admiration from Dev Hynes, Jessie Ware and music blogs around the world, internet fans were calling for more tunes immediately. After six months, Shura just dropped her second single, “Just Once,” which still showcases her touches of r&b and ’80s pop-rock. Within a week, she’s gotten over 100k plays and like her previous release, Shura’s strength lies in her honest delivery of the devastating realities of heartache.
Indee Styla builds on tradition but gives it a fresh, new twist — a sort of “reawakening” as she calls it. She highlights bits and pieces of cultures from around the world via her lyrical prowess and while at it, gives history a breath of fresh air. An example of this is on her latest single “Nómada” off her same-titled 2014 EP, which celebrates ancient nomadic tribes across the globe.
Named after a cheeky term for non-Brits in the UK, Birmingham’s Johnny Foreigner have gone through many changes over the last 9 years, but seem right at home in moody math rock. (With additional real estate in the Isles of Indie. And a vacation spot in Emo-town for when they need time to process their feelings, or something.) And having recently been signed to Philadelphia’s Lame-O Records, it’s about time the Johnny Foreigners claimed a base across the pond.
Laura Jae is a mediator of music. The 23-year-old artist finds common ground between contradicting ideas: In content, knee-buckling heartache and personal fortitude and, in sound, an aesthetic that is simultaneously air-thin and full-bodied. Silver Lined Hearts, her debut EP released just last month, culls from emotionally robust soul tradition as much as it does contemporary ambient electronic.
If mannequins had feelings, what would they sing to us? “Kill the DJ,” “Let’s party all night,” and “I’m sick and tired of human boys,” apparently. Japan’s semi-animate dance duo FEMM (Far East Mention Mannequins) are suited up in latex, armed with rapid-fire electro bangers, and inching their way to global domination in precise, dimestop steps.
Whenever there is talk of Mexico City’s electronic underground, there are always two names that consistently pop up. The first is NAAFI — a club night turned record label which has consistently set the bar for some of the city’s most forward thinking dance sounds. The second, is of course, Lao — who in addition to forming part of the aforementioned label-cum-collective — has built a name for himself as both DJ and producer, as well as label honcho and content curator of the net-label Extasis Records.
It’s safe to say that listing “random acts of fuckery” as a personal interest on his Facebook page is just an underestimation of what this jack-of-all-trades emcee is all about. Indeed, Simiso Zwane, the 31 year-old rapper, DJ, designer, producer, and songwriter, is best known under the alias of Okmalumkoolkat(pronounced okay-mah-loom-cool-cat), and especially for his all-encompassing appeal when it comes to everything hip-hop.
Madam X (AKA Christiana Vassilakis) turned heads in June with the Kaizen Movements Volume 1 compilation that she assembled for her own Big People Music imprint. The 10-track album is a journey through the outer limits of grime, UK funky, and bass music, with vocal and instrumental cuts by Murlo, Samrai, Rubi Dan, Dark0, and more. And now that she’s got the attention of dance music’s tastemakers, she’s taking Mancunian music to the world, and reminding fans abroad that London isn’t the only city on the isle.
Having met in a Sussex grammar school in the ’90s, Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies forged a bond as a couple of precocious young women, whose tastes aligned more with older blues and classic rock fans than with the bubblegum pop palates of their peers. But many years later, including one spent in New Orleans, their anachronistic tendencies have paid off. They’ve supported Bryan Ferry, Richard Hawley and Laura Marling on tour, and collaborated with Jack White on their 2009 double A-side single, “Gastown” / “River Song.”
Chile’s Ases Falsos are prime lyricists that cleverly hide social critique under witty tales of romantic woes, weird journeys, strange people and imaginary close encounters with history. That’s why they might just be the voice of la juventud americana: introspective, clever, worried about the ways of the world and not afraid to dance away the awkwardness while trying to figure it all out.
With Red Bull Music Academy announcing their Class of 2014 this past month, we’re thrilled to see Tollcrane included on the list. As the guitarist and vocalist of Karachi’s Orangenoise, Tollcrane enters the electronic scene with a unique sound that is sometimes ambient, sometimes EDM, but always a little rock ‘n’ roll.
In explaining his single “Nafukwa,” Riky Rick defines one-word title as meaning “do it,” a choice that, knowing Rick, makes sense. Whether he’s shooting his own music videos in the canals of Amsterdam or modeling for Ben Sherman, the South African artist leads the Jo-burg rap scene, embodies “nafukwa.”
In the case of Rebel Diaz, hip-hop is more than just music: it’s a vehicle of resistance. Siblings Rodrigo Venegas (AKA Rod Starz) and Gonzalo Venegas (AKA G1) seek to fully expose the negative realities that the system tries to conceal via their lyrical prowess. Rebel Diaz’s recent full-length release RadicalDilemma does no less than that.
Your 20s is a good time to experiment with likes and dislikes. Flip-flopping is completely excusable; you might spend a year obsessed with electronic music and the next deep in droning metal. Norway’s Death By Unga Bunga, however, appear to have been fully committed to old-school garage-psych since their teens.
The R&B-meets-house trio Movement first hopped on the scene in 2011, pioneering their self-dubbed genre called “minimal soul.” Somewhere along the way Modular Recordings (the label behind Cut Copy, Azari & III, Bag Raiders, and The Presets) plucked the group up and gave Movement the momentum they needed.
As Israel’s military offensive in Gaza continues and the violence spreads to the West Bank, it seems clearer than ever that the real burden of conflict will always fall disproportionately on the shoulders of innocent civilians. Of the 800 people who have lost their lives in the past 18 days of fighting, the overwhelming majority have been Palestinian civilians, many of them, as was the case in Thursday’s strike on a UN school sheltering Palestinians, women and children.
At times like this it is all the more astounding and inspiring when people like Israeli singer David Broza, who recorded his recent album East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem in a West Jerusalem recording studio with Israeli, Palestinian and American musicians, and especially the young Palestinian and Israeli artists in the Israel/Palestine episode of MTV World’s series Rebel Music reach across borders to build human bridges in defiance of war and occupation and to make music that talks about peace.
The ongoing violence and political impasse are products of structures and forces that are very difficult for most people to affect. The acts of artists like these are vital because they remind us of the will of ordinary people to work for peace, justice, and genuine change.
Alice Boman is one of countless extraordinary talents to come out of the land up north. She is still fairly new to the scene, having only released her first EP Skisser (Swedish for sketches) last year. Her hushed, restrained vocals carry the beautifully-constructed lyrics in a truly powerful way, making sure none of the emotion is lost in translation. One can only wonder what gave Boman the inspiration to write such personal songs that can still find a way to impact so many.
Anushka are a soul-lovin’ house duo, comprised of singer-songwriter Victoria Port and producer Max Wheeler. The project began in earnest when Max caught Victoria performing as part of a neo-soul group in their home town of Brighton. The promise of free studio time lured Victoria to record with Max in his studio and from the outset they knew they were on to something promising.
The band name El Caribefunk is very straightforward. The group brings together music heard all over the Caribbean (Colombian champeta, Jamaican reggae, Haitian compas and zouk, Trinidadian calypso, etc) and threads the genres together through a contemporary take on funk. Their roots are in the live music scene in Cartagena, Colombia, but have been based in Buenos Aires and are spending the summer on tour in the United States.
The ’80s may be long gone, but some of its brilliance lives on through talented artists like James Kent, also known as The Perturbator. Inspired by slasher movies, retro video games and the sci-fi art that came out of the decade’s darkest corners, the French synth master adds his own touch of retrofuturism to expansive sonic landscapes, creating the kind of music that makes our endorphins fly. Mr. Kent’s metalhead roots also permeate his music, as he weaves in heavy beats with riff-like melodies.
The music of Osekre and The Lucky Bastards is alive with treasuring every moment. They play a hybrid of Afropop and ska, punk, and reggae that is equally indebted to Osekre’s Ghanaian heritage and the Brooklyn DIY/garage/indie scene that thrived in the late 2000s. Osekre is one of the Brooklyn indie scene’s biggest cheerleaders, having been one of the founders of the annual The Aputumpu Festival celebrating rising local bands.