Illinois native and Toronto based experimental pop artist Meg Remy, aka US Girls, last week announced the release of her new album Half Free, set for September 25. The announcement coincides with a new single, ‘Woman’s Work’ to follow up the excellent ‘Damn That Valley’ from earlier this year. While Remy’s rough and messy DIY edges have undergone transformation in her new work, the new single continues her penchant for producing sonic work of emotive intensity and lyrics that address pertinent social and individual issues in challenging ways. Long time fans may rue Remy’s clean up, but careful listen’s reveal a natural continuation of an defiant aesthetic that’s always been there. Watch the Remy directed video for ‘Woman’s Work’ below.
US Girls (USA/CAN)
From the forthcoming album, 'Half Free', 4AD. Out September 25.
After last week's blitzkrieg which obliterated an entire third of the chart, the Top 30 settles down to welcome just the two new entries this week and both are Australian. Brisbane quartet, Blank Realm, after a decade of existence, are set to release a new album in September, the waxingly named Illegals In Heaven. The first single is one of the best songs yet, the ramshackly hook filled emotive pop sensation, 'River Of Longing'. It's no surprise therefore to see it debut straight into the Top 10 at 8. Listen to it below. The other new entry comes from Snowy Nasdaq and Snowy Life, who we featured on Monday with 'Ironic Life. That's at 19.
The Radio Dept. heads into the Top 5 while Tearjerker and Lena Fayre enter the Top 10. Essaie Pas still at 1.
Chart details in full here and the Top 30 Player is doing what its doing as always.
8. River Of Longing
Blank Realm (AUS)
From the forthcoming album, 'Illegals In Heaven', Bedroom Suck / Fire Records. Out September 4.
Earlier this month saw the release of the third full length record I Will See No Moon, No Sky by Crystal Shipsss, the musical project of experimental Danish artist Jacob Faurholt. It's our much deserved current album of the week. As the title suggests, its a rather melancholic record, recorded in the aftermath of a period of tumult in Faurholt's personal life, the mood matched by the liberal use of the darker elements of the musical spectrum. Faurholt's work has always been fascinating to follow so we relished the opportunity to fire him off some questions about the inspirations, processes and personnel behind the new record and he was candidly forthcoming.
INDIE30: There has always been a quite melancholic approach in much of your music but on I Will See No Moon, No Sky you seem to have taken that a step further and really stepped into the mire of sorts. What was the inspiration for the record?
JF: I guess the inspiration for the album can be divided into two things. The inspiration for the music itself - and the inspiration for the overall theme of the record. When living in Berlin my good friend Soren (from the Canadian act Man Meets Bear) introduced me to the Canadian, but Berlin based duo Nadja. Their music (drone / ambient metal) inspired the sound on “I Will See No Moon No Sky” a lot. I even asked Aidan Baker from Nadja to recommend other bands in the genre for further inspiration. Aidan also plays guitar on the song CROWN. The mood and the lyrics came out of a turbulent time where I parted with my now ex-girlfriend and decided to leave Berlin after 4 ½ year in the city. I recorded all of my own parts in my bedroom while still living in Berlin, which was important to me. After that I emailed the tracks to my friend William Kudahl Sørensen (from the Danish ambient act Infants) who recorded more tracks, and in more than one occasion made the songs way longer. So he is the main architect of the long intros and outros. In the end we gave it all to our friend Jens Christian Madsen (from the Danish electronic alt. pop project Tjaere+Fjer) who also recorded more tracks and finally mixed the album in his studio in Copenhagen. So the album also reflects our three musical projects coming together in one piece.
INDIE30: While, your last record under the Crystal Shipsss name, Dirty Dancer, was a very varied affair, there is a more cohesive feel to the new record. Was that deliberate, to present an overt subject as a musical whole? Is there an overt subject specifically?
JF: With “Dirty Dancer” the idea was to record whenever I felt inspired, especially by listening to all kinds of different music. Therefore the album was recorded over a long period of time, which is probably the reason why it’s such a varied affair. As mentioned above, the musical inspiration for the new album was very clear from the start, and I had a clear deadline for recording my parts (before leaving Berlin). So yes it was definitely deliberate to present the subject as a musical whole.
INDIE30: There is definitely a nod to drone elements on the record. Over the years I have noticed this has been employed sparingly in your work before, suggesting that you’ve always had a penchant for the approach. Would that be right and why the decision to embrace it so wholeheartedly on this release.
JF: I was not sure that I would make another Crystal Shipsss album after “Dirty Dancer”. But then I got sucked into ambient / drone metal music, and I thought it would be interesting to wholeheartedly dive into that “genre”. The song “Burning Kingdom” from the first Crystal Shipsss album “Yay” was the first clue to go in that direction.
INDIE30: While darkness is definitely a theme of the record, you still employ aspects that reflect light and hope. There even seem to be pop elements along with definite ambient and even prog like and otherworldly moments blending themselves in with lo-fi dirge and drone. Is there hope to be found on a record titled I Will See No Moon No Sky?
JF: Yes I think there is. And as you say it’s not all darkness. There is also beauty in those feelings connected to the overall subject. And that contrast is also reflected in the music. For example the contrast between the high pitched reverby vocals and the heavy distorted guitars.
INDIE30: Can you enlighten us a little as to the one word song titles and what drove the lyrical process?
JF: I came up with the one worded titles first and then I improvised the music / lyrics while recording. So the creative process was very immediate. I just wanted to express whatever I was feeling in the moment. The titles were just whatever popped into my head.
INDIE30: Who did you work with on this record and where did you record it? Tell us a little bit about that process, in terms of the people, places and approaches enlisted. Was it a departure from previous methodologies.
JF: I worked with William Kudahl Sørensen (Infants) and Jens Christian Madsen (Tjaere+Fjer) who are now also a part of the CS live band. My parts were recorded in Berlin and the rest was recorded in Copenhagen, where we all live now. And then we had Aidan Baker of Nadja play guitar on CROWN. It meant a lot to me that Aidan said yes to participate, as Nadja was a huge influence on this record. Compared to the previous CS albums, which were more or less solo albums, this one felt like a real band effort. Even though we did not play our first show together until the album was done.
INDIE30: In a studio recording sense, it’s such an alternating mixture of employing real density together with spartan like moments. Was this mixture and the utilisation of density and space part of a search for mood and effect because it succeeds in creating such in spades?
JF: I think it’s the process of all of us throwing our musical minds together. My lo-fi recordings / songs, Williams ambient stuff (and talent for atmosphere) and Jens’ studio wizardry (and eye for details). But I had a very clear vision of what kind of record I wanted to make, and I asked William and Jens to participate as I know and love their music. The perfect match.
INDIE30: Your work seems to possess quite restless tendencies when it comes to genre. Does this restlessness partly stem from being on the road constantly and living in different cities and countries over the years and being influenced by different “scenes” and artists? What’s been the motivation for the multitude of places and spaces? Has it been a matter of going where the music takes you or have you been searching for something in particular?
JF: Crystal Shipsss has from the start been the vehicle for exploring whatever I felt interesting to explore. So it’s definitely a matter of going where the music takes me. With CS there are really no boundaries. I also release albums in my own name, which is more traditional stuff. Songs written on a guitar.
INDIE30: You’ve recently moved back ‘home' to Copenhagen after being based in Berlin for some years. What prompted this?
JF: Basically just a need for change.
INDIE30: You seem to have alternated back and forth between releasing work under your own name and Crystal Shipsss. Can you enlighten us as to thought process behind the two approaches and the timing of such and what does that signal about the future for Jacob Faurholt?
JF: Crystal Shipsss is the more lets say experimental stuff, and the music I release in my own name is more traditional when it comes to songwriting. Right now I am focusing on promoting the new CS album. But there are also plans for an upcoming solo album + shows.
James Stocker - June 26, 2015.
Crystal Shipsss (DEN)
From the album, 'I Will See No Moon, No Sky', Raw Onion Records
One of more strangely named acts at present has to be Melbourne’s Snowy Nasdaq & Snowy Life, the solo moniker of the The Ocean Party’s vocalist/guitarist Liam Halliwell. This month saw the release of his self titled EP through French label Beko Disques. If carefully constructed, sun drenched, ear worm like jangly pop is your bag, you will adore this record. It follows up a plethora of single releases and an EP under the Snowy Nasdaq name over the past eighteen months. Stream them all at his soundcloud link below. We have two tracks from the new EP, the power pop inspired ‘Ironic Life’, complete with physically self-admonishing video and ‘Same Mistakes’ to watch and stream below. Grab it on CD here and quickly. The run is limited to 300. Or digitally here. The only decision for us is which track debuts in the 30 this week.
1. Keeping Up
2. Ironic Life
3. Dolewave 2015
4. Dead Weight_Broken Nose
5. The Fat
6. Same Mistakes
Snowy Nasdaq & Snowy Life (AUS)
From the EP, 'Snowy Nasdaq & Snowy Life', Beko Disques
After it’s regular week break at this time of year, the Top 30 returns this week with a massive nine affecting new entries and a new number one, breathing new life into the chart heading into the second half of 2015.
Unsurprisingly, especially for our long term regular readers, the seven minute piece of electronic shoegaze wonder that is the new The Radio Dept. single, ‘Occupied’ goes straight into the Top 10 at 6.
The next highest debut goes to 18 year old Los Angeles artist Lena Fayre with the wistful heartbreaker ‘Colors Of Leaving’, her new single from her forthcoming EP, Is There Only One. Like fellow L.A artist Miya Folick, whose ‘I Got Drunk’ is still in the chart, Fayre does everything independently which makes her stunning work all the more impressive. What just might be her best track yet debuts at 13. Toronto trio Tearjerker's new single, the slow burning 'Obviously Wrong', nestles in one spot behind
Somerville, Massachusetts popster Luke Reed has released a catchy, groove laden new single, ‘Pathetic’. If ever the measure of a track’s worth didn’t match it’s title, this is it. It’s positively gold and sits at 17.
San Francisco post punk outfit Flesh World released their first full length proper, The Wild Animals In My Life, earlier in the month and the dreamy, yet superbly untidy title track debuts at 18. The album can be got at here through Iron Lung Records, the label of Total Control.
Helsinki synth pop duo Ideomotor released their debut EP, For A Moment We Are Strangers, back in March 2015. Now they return with a grandiose, anthemic new single, ‘Amplified’ . That enters the chart at 20.
After three long and painful years where everyhting that could have conspired to frustrate Brooklyn dark synth pop duo Telepathe is finally over with the news that their new album, Destroyer, originally slated for release way back in 2012, is set for an August release. The brand new track, the rhythmically urgent and musically transcendental, ‘Night’s Spell’ debuts at 22.
The new Protomartyr track, ‘Blues Festival’ which we featured a couple of week’s back takes its bow at 23 while one sport behind is another track we’ve previously featured, Ratatat’s ‘Abrasive’.
Word has it that Istanbul electronic duo Kim Ki O are in the process of writing for a new record and to whet our appetite has released a swirling new track, the hypnotic Krautrock inspired ’The Art Of Failure’ which appears on the new sampler, Planète Hurlante, from their French based label Lentonia Records. That, the last of the new entries, debuts at 26. The sampler is available here for a NYP arrangement.
Montreal electronic duo Essaie Pas hit number one with the restless and ultra energetic, ‘Danse Sociale’ while Johan Angergård’s The Legends moves into the Top 10 with ‘Something Left To Die For’.
All chart details can be found here, the six unfeatured tracks sit below while the eight new ones and the remaining 22 can be streamed in our Top 30 player. There's also a brand new video for the swaggering BREAKFAST track, 'Sally Hansen', which is still in the thirty at 24.
13. Colors Of Leaving
Lena Fayre (USA)
From the forthcoming EP, 'For A Moment We Were Strangers', Self-Released. Out July 24.
After experimental electronic overtones dominated their last two albums, the last released five years ago, Brooklyn veterans Ratatat seem to have returned and added to their guitar driven funk like beginnings with their latest multi-layered dance inspired single, ‘Abrasive’ from their fifth record Magnifique, set for release July 17 on XL. Despite its stilted motorik driven disposition, it’s probably the most accessible thing the instrumental duo have done. Listen below and check out the 4000 image animated video by member Evan Mast. Pre-order the album here.
From the forthcoming album, 'Magnifique', XL Recordings. Out July 17.
Apart from the overt and deceptively good stand alone track 'Death To Facism' released in September last year to coincide with the Swedish elections, we've heard nothing at all from the economical and enigmatic electronic shoegazers, The Radio Dept. since their brilliiant 2010 album, Clinging To A Scheme. That's now changed with the release of an outstanding new seven minute new single, 'Occupied', one that explores new sonic directions, and veers into half motorik/half dance territory. It's part of a three track EP that includes another new track and a renamed remix of the original by Liminal. Grab it on limited edition vinyl here. There are murmurs around that a new album will surface later this year. With their track record on release dates though, we'll all just bide our time whenever it happens. 'Occupied' will be more than enough to tide us over. Thank fuck they're back!
Tuesday sees the physical release of the split 7” single, A Half Of Seven' from Detroit post punk outfit Protomartyr and Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery's R. Ring. Listen to the hard hitting, four to the floor nature of ‘Blues Festival’ and the scuffed up off kilter rock of ‘Loud Underneath’ respectively below. Pre-order the 7” here through Hardly Art Records ready for release on the 16th June. Rollicking stuff!
From the 7" split single with R. Ring, 'A Half Of Seven', Hardly Art.
Toronto based trio Tearjerker, who graced our Top 100 chart of 2014 at the esteemed position of number 3 with the gigantic, 'You Can' off their EP, Hiding, are set to drop another killer track, the first single from their forthcoming new long player, Stay Wild. Titled 'Obviously Wrong', it follows the band's penchant for constructing delicate and meticulous arrangements and creating a certain atmosphere of feeling through loops around a one simple hook that embeds itself you with consumate ease. In true Tearjerker style, the album, like their previous two and last year's EP has been done in true DIY fashion, home recorded, mixed and produced, self designed and handcrafted. They will be self releasing the record as well.
Taylor Shute explained the process involved in the songwriting and recording, "We spent a lot of time getting everything right with this record. From a hanging note at the end of a song, to a barely audible sample in a breakdown in the middle of a track, we tried to make a record that will reward repeated listens'. 'Obviously Wrong' is the perfect example of that.
Stay Wild is out July 17. The single is below. Enjoy it envelop you.
From the forthcoming album, 'Stay Wild', Self Released.
Norwegian experimentalist and self admitted “outsider artist and writer”, Jenny Hval takes on everything from religion to politics, sex and sexuality and employs surrealist images to represent her representation of complexity and the indefinite on her fifth full length and third under her own name, the brutal, Apocalypse, Girl. It’s an intensely thoughtful and intelligent collection of tracks that won’t be easy for many to digest, the heartfelt honesty piercing through in stark fashion.
Hval also employs visual art like vignettes which appear on the record as dreamy like soundscapes, and noise like visions, ‘White Underground’, ’Some Days’ and the ten minute closer ‘Holy Land’ cases in point. But the aforementioned surrealist complexity is represented by some most easily accessible moments, on the surface anyway, the sassy, noir like, yet withering social commentary of ‘That Battle Is Over’ and the electronically celestial, yet ascerbic like ‘Heaven’.
The production work of producer Lasse Marhaug and instrumental contributions of the likes of Håvard Volden and Kyrre Lasted come through in intimate fashion complementing Hval’s intensely personal style. Percussionist Thor Harris (Swans), jazz pianist Øystein Moen, cellist Okkyung Harpi and harpist Rhodri Davis contribute their collaborations seamlessly and with great care.
In a musical sense, Hval and co. wander effortlessly employing elements of folk, pop, trip-hop and drone and it’s arguably the best her vocals have sounded representing the cerebral like lyrics in recognisably emotive ways. You can sense the feeling of foreboding, the sense of nostalgia and the intense interest of watching from outside herself in those tones. Indeed, Hval has made the point that how to express her writing through song presents a serious challenge, one she almost agonises over. That hard work comes through very clearly throughout the record.
And don’t confuse the overt song titles for any sort of religious fervour. They simply record Hval’s connection to Norway’s bible belt when she was young. She’s far too intelligent to be of a religious bent and anyone familiar with her past work would render the need to say that impotent. She is a voyeur in every sense of those subjects aforementioned but at times embraces her subjects, like Mette Moestrup's metaphorical banana as soft dick that straddles the first two tracks, in intimate, yet still distant ways. And on the subject of politics, Hval states those who are outsiders or of a left bent have their own personal reasons for finding that reassurung space but that doesn’t mean we aren’t weak when it comes to the witheringly powerful commercialism and consumerism that is omnipresent.
Apocalypse, girl, despite Hval’s aversion to calling herself an artist is a true work of art in every sense, lyrically, musically, visually and intellectually. One that makes us truly ponder the insides and outsides of living with our simultaneous certainties and uncertainties. The album is out next week on Sacred Bones. One of the best of this year. Of that there is little doubt.
James Stocker - June 9, 2015.
This video for 'That Battle Is Over' directed by Zia Anger and featuring Cornelia Livingston and Melissa Auf de Maur is the perfect representation of not only the subject matter of the track but the surrealism that abounds on the record. Watch it below and enjoy another track, the beguiling 'Sabbath'.
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