Quick Review: “Ladytron” by Ladytron

I remember very well that many years ago I was definitely a fan of Ladytron’s music, but every time I checked with my acquaintances it seemed that, at least in my circle of contacts, I was the only one to know this band. This is just to say that in my opinion, these guys from Liverpool have never achieved the success and popularity that they deserved, at least outside the boundaries of the English electronic scene. As a matter of fact, their music has always been truly original and unique: not only they crafted a brilliant mix of many different styles of electronic music (electro-pop, synth-pop, EDM, darkwave) but they also managed to give to it a nice retro feeling.

Year after year, I slowly lost sight of the band and, to be honest, I was fairly surprised when I discovered that they were still active and that there was a new record on the shelves. Investigating a little deeper I realized that it was not just my fault if I lost track of Ladytron since the band had effectively entered a period of hiatus after their 2011’s album Gravity the Seducer. Their new LP, which is named after the band, basically signs their official comeback after many years of silence.


For everyone who was already a fan of Ladytron’s music, the new album doesn’t bring any dramatic change or surprise, if not perhaps for the fact that the atmospheres are, at times, a little gloomier than what we had in Gravity the Seducer. In this respect, Ladytron may appear at first sight as closer to the early works of the band rather than what they were playing before the hiatus. At the same time, however, the new songs lack the impetuousness and abrasiveness that characterized the first phase of their career. This is compensated by an increased maturity of style, and an overall sense of elegance that clearly reflects the fact that in these years the musicians have grown, not only musically.

For those who don’t know the band or missed their golden age, which for me is the period included between 2002’s Light & Magic and 2005’s Witching Hour, it’s sufficient to know that this music is absolutely different from anything you heard until today: a fascinating interpretation of electro-pop which mixes delicacy and aggression, angelic voices and engaging rhythms.

Ladytron is not the best LP of the band’s discography, but it’s still an appreciated comeback from a group of musicians who wrote an important page in the history of UK’s electronic music.

My overall rating for the LP is 7/10. In my opinion, the LP suffers the unbalance between the most beautiful songs (Deadzone, The Animals, The Island, Far From Home), and those tracks which seem less effective and particular.


Ladytron is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.



Songs from Ladytron are featured in ELECTRO POP (the playlist with the best electro-pop songs of the last couple of years) and also in The ELECTRONIC MUSIC Radar, which is the selection of the best electronics songs released in 2019. Enjoy!



Best New Music: “Crushing” by Julia Jacklin

Sometimes I find myself thinking about how many groups or artists try to reach the hearts of their fans with compulsively conceptual songs, or stylistic choices that want to be innovative, but that ultimately do nothing else than putting an unnecessary distance between the music and the listener. Then, all of a sudden, a young musician arrives, with just her voice and a guitar, and she sweeps away all these overcomplicated artefacts with the simplicity of beautiful songs that speaks directly to the heart.

Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer and songwriter based in Sydney, and she has released in late February 2019 her second LP, Crushing, which follows her 2016’s impressive debut studio album, Don’t Let the Kids Win. Similarly to what happened on the occasion of her first record, the first thing which impresses of Crushing is the remarkable emotional intensity of the songs. These are reflections and flashes made by the artist on her life and her past experiences, translated into music with a naturalness and a sense of urgency and immediacy that cannot leave us indifferent.

“Crushing” is the second LP by the Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin. The album was released on February 22nd, 2019, by Liberation Records.

When you listen Julia Jacklin’s new record, it really seems to be alongside an old friend of ours who decided, on a rainy day, to tell us about some of the strongest emotions she has experienced in the last few years, and she does it with passion, transport, and using a musical language that’s simple, as it is effective and confidential.

This album came from spending two years touring and being in a relationship, and feeling like I never had any space of my own. For a long time I felt like my head was full of fear and my body was just this functional thing that carried me from point A to B, and writing these songs was like rejoining the two.

Julia Jacklin, from her Facebook page
Julia Jacklin

From a musical point of view, the songs of Crushing stay right on the border that separates indie pop from folk. The instrumentation, in particular, is that typical of folk music: the tracks develop mainly on Julia’s voice and guitar, with a simple rhythmic session made by repeated notes of bass and slow beats on the drums. Rarely we hear a piano. The simplicity of the arrangement, however, is compensated by warm and beautiful sounds of all the instruments, which in the end enhance the sense of intimacy of the tracks.

As far as the style of the songs is concerned, Crushing alternates between poetical moments with meditative and confidential tones, and others where the rhythms rise (relatively) and the songs embrace a rock and roll feeling. The first category of songs is that one that impressed me the most, and which in my opinion makes this LP so beautiful and gorgeous. The opening song of the LP, Body, is perhaps one of the most expressive and engaging tracks I’ve heard in recent times. The song tells of the end of a relationhsip, and of how the destiny can have an impact on our lifes in the most unpredictable ways.

On the album-opening lead single “Body,” Jacklin proves the power of that approach, turning out a mesmerizing vocal performance even as she slips into the slightest murmur. A starkly composed portrait of a breakup, the song bears an often-bracing intimacy, a sense that you’re right in the room with Jacklin as she lays her heart out. And as Body wanders and drifts, Jacklin establishes Crushing as an album that exists entirely on its own time, a work that’s willfully unhurried.

Excerpt from Julia Jacklin’s Facebook page

Crushing is an album filled with emotions and played with passion and elegance. Julia Jacklin is improving her style and storytelling skills year after year. We can really expect the best from her future career.

I’m giving the LP an overall rating of 8/10. As I said, I was particularly impressed by the most intimate and delicate songs of the LP, which include the already mentioned Body, Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You, Convention, Turn Me Down, and Comfort.


Crushing is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.



Songs from Crushing are now featured in a number of different playlists among those I curate on Spotify, namely: CRESTS OF WAVES (the softer side of music), THE INDIE FOLK RADAR (the best of Indie Folk since the beginning of 2019), THE INDIE POP RADAR (the best of Indie Pop since the beginning of 2019), and MODERN SONGWRITERS. Check these out and follow the playlists, these are updated frequently with new songs.



The INDIE POP Radar (Episode #1/2019)

It is now a couple of years since I have started to explore more regularly and with greater attention the world of Indie Pop, and I have to say that typically the frequency with which I find interesting records is not high as what I measure for other musical genres. This probably happens because the “popular” aspect of this genre of music often leads the artists to trade off the profundity and the originality of their songs with immediacy and accessibility. However, there are still some albums that periodically stand out from the others, and these are the records that I’m going to select and mention in this new series of columns dedicated to Indie Pop.

This first edition of the Indie Pop radar features the most relevant albums that were relesed in the first two months of 2019. I’ve selected four LPs and one EP, which cover different interpretation of this style of music.

As far as geography is concerned, we have that four of the five albums are coming from the United States of America (from Juliana Hatfield, Mree, Buke & Gase and Adia Victoria). The last one is from Germany (Wooden Peak).

Let’s see the which were the best Indie Pop albums in January and February of 2019, and stay tuned for updates of the radar!



“Weird”, by Juliana Hatfield

One of the most important events in indie pop which occurred in the first part of the year has been the release of the new LP by American singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield. Weird is the seventeenth studio album of her intense career (only counting her solo works), which means that we’re talking of an artist that has gained extreme confidence in writing and playing music.

The songs of Weird are mostly built upon the basic combination of a clean electric guitar and Hatfield’s voice, with the rhythmic section that has the only role of keeping the pace of the song. The result is a sequence of melodic, cheerful and absolutely engaging ballads, which still maintain however an “indie” feeling.

You can read here my review of the album.



“The Middle”, by Mree

American singer-songwriter Marie Hsiao, who’s best known with her stage name of Mree, has been gifted with one of the most beautiful and angelic voices in the indie music panorama. Fortunately for us, however, she has demonstrated through the last years to have achieved also a remarkable musical sensibility together with appreciable songwriting skills, so that in the end her beautiful voice is always supported by enjoyable and intriguing pieces of music. This is for sure the case of Mree’s new EP, called The Middle, which features a collection of four delicate and intimate pieces and one instrumental song.

The Middle arrives two years after her previous EP (Silver Gold), and four years after her last LP (Empty Nest). Surely this is a sign of the artist’s will to pursue only the highest musical quality, and it increases the expectations for her next full-length release.

From a musical point of view, the EP signs also a clear shift towards indie pop and dreamy atmospheres with respect to her previous records, which were definitely more oriented to indie folk. As a matter of fact, The Middle features a couple of very impressive songs (including the title track) and this should motivate her to keep exploring this style of music, where she effectively manages to infuse passion and poetry with her fantastic voice.



“Silences”, by Adia Victoria

It was not easy to choose whether to mention the new album by Adia Victoria album in this section, dedicated to indie pop or if I had to include it in the indie folk category. The American artist is, in fact, a singer-songwriter who likes to insert in her music interesting notes of gothic and blues, but, at the same time, all of her songs have a clear “popular” and catchy feeling, at least from a purely musical point of view. As far as the lyrics are concerned, the situation is different, as her songs tell of the difficulties she had to face before growing-up, and becoming an established artist.

Silences is the second LP from Adia Victoria, and it arrives three years after her impressive debut, Beyond the Bloodhounds. In such a timespan the artist from Nashville has evidently experimented with increasing the palette of sounds and instruments. The new album, in fact, is chromatically much richer than its debut LP, and it benefits from a truly exceptional production.

Silences is a record full of many things together: engaging music, but written with a pop sensibility, deep and thoughtful lyrics, and fantastic sounds.



“Scholars”, by Buke & Gase

Among the most interesting indie pop records of the first part of the year, there is for sure the new LP by Buke & Gase, named Scholars. This is actually more an experimental record than an indie pop one, and it’s in fact included in that category of records. Nevertheless, the musical material that is processed and manipulated by the American band is, in its essence, pop music, and so the LP may find its place also here on this page. Buke & Gase is the duo formed approximately ten years ago by Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez, two musicians with a declared passion for improvisation and sonic experimentation. As might be expected, their music cannot be defined as “easy listening”, nevertheless the output of their experiments in the studio remains quite catchy and accessible.

Buke & Gase’s new work oscillates between sections that are fairly conceptual (and not very communicative, to be honest) and other moments in which their bizarre combinations of sounds generate intriguing rhythms and melodies. However, I remain of the idea that the value of this music should not be sought in the ingenuity of the solutions that the two have developed for the album, but rather on the way they managed to restructure the building blocks of modern pop music. What other artists put together to create a song, they separate it. This process produces sometimes exquisite pieces of music, other times we have musical material that’s interesting to study, but relatively difficult to enjoy.



“Yellow Walls”, by Wooden Peak

The month of February gave us an interesting and intriguing album to enjoy, although very particular. It’s Yellow Walls, the new and fourth LP by German folktronic duo Wooden Peak.

Their music has always been reduced to the essential: a simple, almost fragile, electronic rhythmic baseline on which the artists record delicate melodies of guitar, gentle layers of synths and interesting lyrics. Everything is quiet, moderate, almost minimal. And for this reason, it may be challenging at first to feel involved by their songs, which could easily seem initial drafts of songs rather than complete and finished pieces. Many times, however, the most beautiful things are hidden in the details, and that’s what happens with the new intriguing collection of low-fi and delicate songs that the duo has prepared for us.

I’ve published a dedicated review of the album, you can read it from here.



I started collecting the best Indie Pop songs of 2019 in the Playlist called THE INDIE POP RADAR. Check it out and follow it, it’s going to grow with time.



Quick Review: “Yellow Walls” by Wooden Peak

Many times the most beautiful things are hidden in the details, and you must also be ready to go beyond the first impression to appreciate what’s out of the sight of the distracted observer. As far as music is concerned, there are records that initially leave you cold and neutral because of the essentiality of the arrangements and the apparent lack of passion but then, after you listen again and again, they reveal an enjoyability and a richness of charming details that can really be out of the ordinary.

Wooden Peak is a German band consisting of Jonas Wolter (guitar, organ and voice) and Sebastian Bode (drums and synths), and the duo arrived with their newest release, named Yellow Walls, to the fourth LP of their career. Their music has always been reduced to the essential: a simple, almost fragile, electronic rhythmic baseline on which the artists record delicate melodies of guitar, gentle layers of synths and interesting lyrics. Everything is quiet, moderate, almost minimal. And for this reason it may be challenging at first to feel involved by their songs, which could easily seem initial drafts of songs rather than complete and finished pieces. The style of their songs can be described as a stripped down version of folktronica, or even as an acoustic and slow-moving intepretation of post rock. The main similarities that come to my mind are the early works from Mogwai and the beautiful The Notwist‘s Neon Golden.


Wooden Peak are active since more than ten years and over this time they have gained the ability to understand what’s really essential for a song, and what can be removed in order to make everything lighter, and softer. Clearly their style of music is not for large audiences, still their songs can give transmit strong emotions to all those who are willing to go beyond the initial impression of extreme simplicity.


My overall rating is 7/10. Yellow Walls is a beautiful collection of low-fi and delicate music for all those moments when you need tranquility but you still want to enjoy delicate sounds. This LP is the ideal companion for long sessions on the computer: it will never completely distract your attention from what you are doing, but it will be on the background, keeping you company and making the atmosphere extremely sensual and soft.

My favourite tracks of the LP are Stitch, Lamp, Swarm and Wednesday.


Yellow Walls is available on Bancamp and it can be also streamed from Spotify.



Wooden Peak are now featured in CRESTS OF WAVES, the playlist with the best and softer songs that have been released in the last couple of years. Listen to it and follow it, it’s frequently updated with new songs.



RECOVERED – The Best Pop Songs Covered in Metal

Inspired by the recent LP of covers that was released by Arch Enemy, I’ve put together some of the best metal covers of pop songs. I hope that it will be as much fun for you to hear as it was for me to mix! And in case it will be appreciated, a second episode could arrive shortly. Enjoy! And shout!!



This is complete list of bands that were included in this mix: Alien Ant Farm, Arch Enemy, Disturbed, Ensiferum, HIM, Korn, Machine Head, Powerman 5000, Seether, The Blank Theory, and Vision Divine.


Quick Review: “Weird” by Juliana Hatfield

American singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield has accumulated a huge number of different musical experiences throughout her intense career, and she has achieved a relevant reputation in many different genres of music: from the alt rock she used to play with the Blake Babies to the power pop of The Lemonheads, passing through the indie rock she did with Some Girls. Therefore, every new release from Hatfield brings with it a moderate curiosity about the style and the influences that we will find in the record. Last year I had some perplexity in front of her solo album “Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John (contrarily to the average reviews of the official critics): it seemed to me that the LP was lacking the capacity to communicate genuine emotions to those who were not familiar with the discography of the Aussie singer. This year Hatfield is back with a new LP called Weird, and I feel that the new album is definitely stronger and more effective than the previous one.

From a musical point of view, Weird oscillates between a sparkling and catchy rock and roll and a mainstream-oriented indie pop. It’s thus difficult to classify Hatfield’s new album into one single category: the style of her music today is truly the expression of an artist that has matured her own way to write and play, and she does it with extreme confidence. At the same time, it’s worth to remember that with her new LP Juliana Hatfield has now arrived at the seventeenth studio album of her career, and this number includes only her solo works. At every new release, she has the opportunity to take the best from all that she learned during such a valuable journey into music.


Sonically speaking, most of the tracks of Weird are built upon the basic combination of a clean electric guitar and Hatfield’s voice, with the rhytmic section that has the only role of keeping the pace of the song. The result is a sequence of melodic, cheerful and absolutely engaging ballads which still maintain an “indie” feeling.

One thing that I liked very much about the LP is that sense of freshness and immediacy of the songs. Weird seems to have been composed through a spontaneous and natural process, and we get the feeling that Hatfield experienced a moment of significant creative impulse when conceiving the record, as if the songs came out from her mind with relative ease. Despite the intimate and sometime pessimistic lyrics, the overall mood of the LP is substantially cheerful and positive, and you can enjoy its songs in many different moments of your day.


If I should give a rating to the album, I would go for a 7/10.

The album can be streamed on Spotify.

My favorite songs of the record are: Staying In (which is the opening track and maybe the strongest song of the LP), It’s so Weird, and Paid to Lie.



Juliana Hatfield’s song Staying In is now featured in CREST OF WAVES, “the Softer Side of Music”. Check it out and follow it, the playlist is continuously updated.



END OF THE YEAR LISTS: BEST INDIE POP OF 2018 (CHART + PLAYLIST)

While I was assembling this list with the best indie pop albums of 2018 I could realize that this year has been characterized by an impressive number of young and emerging artists. While this is certainly a good sign for the future of the genre, on the other side it shows how it is relatively common and physiological, apart from some rare exceptions, that the most successful bands slowly and progressively lose that spark of innovation and creativity that we find burning and alive in the youngest formations.

In general terms, however, this was certainly an interesting year for indie pop music and together with some confirmations (Metric, Calexico
Anna von Hausswolff and Soap&Skin) we also had a few intriguing surprises (Postcards from Lebanon, Say Sue Me from South Korea).

Before proceeding with the chart, I’m pleased to inform that there is a special playlist on Spotify which collects the most beautiful songs taken from the albums that are featured in this article. Good reading and good listening!



#10) Metric, “Art of Doubt”

Indie Pop / Synth Pop
Metric is a Canadian rock band founded in 1998 in Toronto, Ontario. Their discography features seven full-lenght studio records.

Over the past fifteen years the sound of Metric has traveled several times, and in both directions, along the path which runs between synthpop and indie rock. And the new album by the Canadian band, Art of Doubt, seems to be conceived in order to summarize, in one single episode, all the main stages of this travel. In certain songs we have a clear “rock and roll” feeling with guitars, bass and drums in the foreground, but there are many other parts of the album where atmospheres and sounds are definitely “pop”, with triumphs of synthetizers and also many hints to those downtempo and basic melodies which characterized the early works of the band.

As usual, the burden of keeping everything consistent is mostly in the hands of Emily Haines and James Shaw, who’ve been since the beginning the driving forces of the band. Haines, in particular, delivers in the new LP one of her best vocal performances so far, whilst Shaw’s guitar, glossy and sticky, always manages to offer something interesting and catchy to hear.

Art of Doubt won’t be the absolute masterpiece in Metric’s career, but it’s still an absolutely valid and interesting record, with a few songs that that remain deeply impressed in our memory and that populated many of the playlists which circulated this year.



#9) Calexico, “The Thread That Keeps Us”

Indie Pop / Desert Noir / Americana
Joey Burns and John Convertino are the two main members of Calexico, a Tucson, Arizona-based Americana, Tex-Mex, indie rock band. The band has relesed ten LPs since its formation in 1996.

It’s always a special moment when a band reaches the milestone of the tenth album of their discography and Calexico, the “desert noir” group founded more than twenty years ago by Joey Burns and John Convertino, has achieved this result in 2018 with their new album The Thread That Keeps Us.

The name of the group is that of the city of Calexico, located on the border between the United States and Mexico, and this choice has always reminded of the particular approach that Burns and Convertino have followed in their career by mixing together different genres and influences. Their latest album is no exception, and we can in fact appreciate an enjoyable mix of Americana, folk and the usual references to the Latin musical tradition.

The songs of The Thread That Keeps Us are generally interesting and intriguing, although the duration of the album (fifteen tracks plus seven bonuses) has somewhat diluted its overall intensity. As always, however, we can appreciate in Calexico’s music an elegance and also a desire to experiment that are quite unique in today’s panorama, and for this reason we can certainly tolerate some small drop in intensity and enjoy, on the other side, some of the most fascinating songs among those we could enjoy this year.



#8) Roosevelt, “Young Romance”

Synth Pop / Indie Electronic
Roosevelt (born Marius Lauber in September 1990) is a German singer, songwriter and producer from Viersen. He has released his first self-titled LP in 2016, and he published in 2018 his second record, named “Young Romance”.

There are albums that seem to be made for being played in the background, bringing good feelings and a boost in positivity. Young Romance, the new album from German singer, DJ and producer Marius Lauber (who plays under the moniker of Roosevelt) is definitely one of these records. The music he wrote for his new album is in fact a clean and polished version of synth-pop which takes deep inspiration from the sounds of the 80s, rich of sweet notes and pleasant atmospheres.

Young Romance features a nice collection singable and easy-listening vintage pop songs that manage to maintain a good level of originality and interest. There is in particular a streak of very good songs placed right in the middle of the disk which stand out for the enjoyability and the catchyness of the choruses, something that should guarantee high rotations in many music playlists (including mine).

With his second solo work, Marius Lauber continues his process of progressive departure from the world of indie electronic towards the wider shores of pop music. In doing this transformation he’s increasing the recourse to vintage sounds from the golden age of synth-pop, trying to make his music more fascinating and, in some way, characteristic. In many tracks of the new album this operation was certainly successful, even if there is an tangible gap between the best songs of Young Romance and the remaining ones, and this is perhaps the weakest aspect of Roosevelt’s new work.



#7) The Wombats, “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life”

Indie Pop / Indie Rock / Punk Revival
The Wombats are an English pop/rock band formed in Liverpool in 2003, Their debut studio album was released in 2017 and the band has published to date four LPs.

The Wombats, from Liverpool, have published this year the fourth album of their career, named Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Since their initial formation in 2003, the band has experienced many changes in their style: from electronic/psychedelic music to post-punk revival, arriving the current sound which blends pop-oriented melodies with elements from indie rock and alternative dance. In short, a mixture of influences and inspirations that has always guaranteed freshness and innovation to their albums, something which is somehow confirmed in their last record.

Despite some gap between the best and weakest parts, the album offers a fine collection of songs that moves with ease between pop and rock, with a few tracks that emerge from the others for their catchy choruses and some particularly intriguing melody.

The style of the band has always tried to find a difficult balance between a “mainstream” sound made for gaining the attention of the  general public, and  an “indie” approach aimed at keeping their music intriguing and somehow particular. After more of ten years of experience in the studio and on the stages, this challenging goal has been mostly achieved.



#6) David Duchovny, “Every Third Thought”

Indie Pop / Folk / Pop Rock
David William Duchovny is an American actor, writer, producer, director, novelist, and singer-songwriter. As a musicians, he has released to date two LPs.

David Duchovny is one of those artists who likes to challenge himself with different forms of expression and in fact, in addition to looking for aliens and other mysteries, the famous American actor has distinguished himself as a novelist, producer, and also musician. As far as his music career is concerned, it should be said that Duchovny writes and arranges all of his songs, thus showing qualities that go well beyond a nice presence on the stage and an interesting voice.

Although I had initially some skepticism about his music, I had to recognize  that Every Third Thought , which is Duchovny’s latest LP, is definitely an interesting and appreciable collection of indie pop songs, and in fact some of them that have been rotating frequently in some of the playlists that I’m curating on Spotify.

Compared with Duchovny’s previous release (2015’s Hell or Highwater) the new album has gained in intensity and also energy: his sound today is definitely more “rock”, and the overall enjoyability of the album has benefited from such evolution. The songs of Every Third Thought won’t be the ones that will revolutionize the indie scene, but Duchovny’s music is definitely extremely nice to listen to, and also much more interesting than what one could expect.



#5) Wild Pink, “Yolk in the Fur”

Indie Pop / Indie Rock
Wild Pink is an American indie rock band from the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. Their self-titled debut full-length album was released in February 2017. The band’s second and most recent album, “Yolk in the Fur”, was released on July 2018.

Wild Pink, from New York City, is one of those emerging bands which are trying to find their own space in the music scene by cultivating elegance and style rather than using commercial and marketing stratagems to get the attention of fans and medias in general. Wild Pink define themselves as an indie rock band, and their formation is in effect the typical trio with guitar/vocals, bass and drums. The music composed by these guys, however, travels through the softer and quieter regions of the rock universe, on that blurred border that exists between rock and indie pop; this the kind of music which has as major exponents authors such as War on Drugs, Kurt Vile and, to some extent, Death Cab for Cutie (if you consider their early works).

Formed in 2017, Wild Pink have published so far two EPs and two LPs. Their last full-lenght record, Yolk in the Fur, presents a fairly significant evolution of their style compared to their self-titled debut, especially for the adoption of a more classic and conventional structure of the songs. Compared to their first record, the sound of Wild Pink is slowly drifting towards more placid and quiet musical landscapes, rarely perturbed by guitar distortions and dissonances. It’s like being on a beach at the end of the summer: the climate still carries the scent and the lightness of the sunny days that we enjoyed until a few weeks ago, but there are occasionally breezes of cold winds and also black clouds that can obscure the light for a few minutes.

Musically speaking, Yolk in the Fur is characterized by placid rhythms and simple but intriguing melodies. Most of the songs are built on top of clean guitars, warm lines of bass and delicate layers of acoustic synthetizers. And there is of course the charming voice of John Ross, the leader and songwriter of the band, a singer who never needs to scream to tell his stories, like an old friend who sits beside you and calmly talks about the things he has observed during his absence.



#4) Say Sue Me, “Where We Were Together”

Indie Pop / Surf Rock / Pop Rock
Say Sue Me define themselves as an indie rock band from Busan, South Korea. They have released to date a number of EPs and two full-lenght albums.

It was pretty surprising for me to find out that Say Sue Me is a band coming from South Korea. When I first listened to their songs, they appeared to me as one of the many North American or European bands who try to find their way into the music scene. I must admit that the particular origin of the band stimulated me to listen with more attention to their LP, Where We Were Together, which is the second disc of their discography (I missed their debut, my apologies). After listening to the whole record for a handful of times I started to get more attracted to their music and, in the end, I’m really happy that I gave them a second chance after my first (inattentive) try.

Where We Were Together features an ejoyable collection of small and luminous musical sketches, all of them cheerful and nice to hear. One of the strongest elements of their song is surely the delicate and angelic voice of the singer, who gives grace and atmosphere to all the record.

Where We Were Together seems to me the perfect music to be heard on my return home on Friday afternoons, when the tension of a week of meetings and commitments slowly dissolves into the promise of a weekend of serenity.



#3) Anna von Hausswolff, “Dead Magic”

Art Pop / Dark Ambient
Anna Michaela Ebba Electra von Hausswolff is a Swedish singer, pianist, organist and songwriter. She has released to date four LPs and three EPs.

Anna von Hausswolff, from Sweden, represents one of those cases in which the talent transcends the artist’s age and experience. In 2010, at the age of 24, the eclectic singer and organist released her first album, Singing From the Grave, which already highlighted the first fragments of her genius. In 2018, eight years after her debut, she fully confirms with the new album Dead Magic all the good things that were said about her impressive debut and also the following two records that she published, respectively, in 2012 and 2015.

The style of Anna von Hausswolff is something difficult to explain with just words: it is a sort of mix of dark ambient, avant-garde and art pop. Beyond the tags and attributes, however, the important thing to say is that the five songs of Dead Magic manage to transmit strong and contrasting emotions like peace and anxiety, joy and agitation, trust and loss. The pieces of the album live in an unstable balance between positive and negative elements, with layers of sounds that alternate one after the other following the slow and pulsating rhythm of the music. The artist’s voice, scarcely spread across the LP, makes the tracks even more fascinating and sometimes haunting.

Surely this is not an album made for relax or entertainment, but all those listeners who are ready to venture into the shifting and challenging worlds created by the artist will be rewared with one of the most exciting collections of music that have been published in recent times.



#2) Soap&Skin, “From Gas to Solid / you are my friend”

Art Pop
Soap&Skin is the experimental musical project of Austrian artist Anja Plaschg. She has released to date three LPs.

I remember very well my first musical encounter with Soap&Skin because her debut album, 2009’s Lovetune for Vacuum, coincided with my first purchase on iTunes. At that time I was excited by how it was becoming easy and immediate to discover and acquire music from virtually unknown artist and that excitment, to some extent, had led me to feel a sort of special connection with the album of the Austrian artist. After a short while, however, I realized that despite the LP was for sure a promising debut from a young musician, in the end it resulted less longeve and amazing than what I had felt after the first few listens. The kind of experimental music played by Anja Plaschg was absolutely evocative and also quite original. What didn’t convince me, however, was that alongside some very good songs, objectively emotional and exciting to hear, there were many other tracks that resulted extremely intimate and overly personal: fragments of experiences that for sure represented something very important in the life of the artist but which, once translated into music, resulted not really communicative and poor of emotions for the external listener.

In the recent years I lost sight of this artist and therefore I was a little surprised, and curious, when I received the news of her new album, called From Gas to Solid / you are my friend. But more than the news by itself, I was particularly impressed to discover how Anja Plaschg gained in confidence and maturity in years that have passed since her first two records.

Soap&Skin’s new LP is characterized many positive features. The style is still experimental and also permeated by a general atmosphere of darkness and anxiety. The palette of sounds, however, is much more varied and alongside the usual fragments of piano and other classical instruments we have today chamber choruses, lots of different percussion instruments, ambient noises and delicate layers of synths. Flashes of light come from time to time to illuminate the darkness, and this makes the LP definitely more dynamic and enjoyable to hear. It’s as if a vein of positivity has been grafted into the music of the Austrian artist, and the resulting contrast between light and shadows makes the overall picture much more compelling.

From Gas to Solid / you are my friend is the album that in my opinion marks the maturity of Soap&Skin. Some songs continue to be a bit too cryptic for the casual listener, but for all those who like neoclassical moods and are also ready to embrace dark ambient atmospheres, this album will offer intense emotions and a rewarding musical experience.




#1) Postcards, “I’ll Be Here In The Morning”

Dreamy Pop / Indie Rock
Postcards is a Lebanese dream pop/indie rock band formed in early 2013. They have released three EPs and their first full-length record, “I’ll be here in the morning”, was released on January 2018.

This LP was one of the first indie pop records that were reviewed this year in this blog and therefore is surprising enough to find it firmly on top of the chart now that we have eventually arrived to the final selection for 2018, in particular if we consider that it’s a debut work. 

I’ll be here in the morning is the first album released by Postcards, a dreamy-pop & indie rock band formed in Beirut, Lebanon, on late 2012. Postcards describe their music as “hushed, introspective vocals floating over expansive sonic spaces that shift between harsh noise and dreamy soundscapes”. Such definition may be a little too complex and sophisticated, but there is no doubt that the music offered in this debut LP is of absolute value and it contains many elements of innovation, in particular when taking into account the current status of the indie pop scene.

One of the most exciting aspects of I’ll be here in the morning is that the songs seem as they are not completely defined: they move between areas of lightness and tranquillity and other sections which are definitely more dark,meditative, with melodies that initially appear serene and peaceful but, during the development of the songs, start to show also ambiguous and subtly disturbing elements. The album is also characterized by a nice alternation of intimate songs and more angry and polemical moments. In short, it’s a concentration of extremely different moments which are however interconnected by a style of music that remains coherent and effective across the nine tracks of the record.

Finally, it’s worth to say that despite we are evidently looking at the first steps of a promising career, these four musicians from Beirut already show ecellent songwriting skills, togethr with an impressive musical sensibility. If Poscards will confirm these qualities in their future works, they are destined to do great things in music. And I will be there to remind you that I was one of those few who discovered their value since their debut record.



As anticipated at the beginning of the article, you may enjoy the best songs from these albums in a special Playlist that I’ve just created on Spotify! Listen to it and spread the word!



Quick Review: “From Gas to Solid / you are my friend” by Soap&Skin

I remember well my first musical encounter with Soap&Skin because her debut album was my very first purchases on iTunes and, at that time, I was excited by the fact that it was becoming so easy and immediate to discover and acquire music from virtually unknown artists. It was 2009 and I still remember that I read an intriguing review of Lovetune for Vacuum on an Italian music magazine (“Mucchio Selvaggio”) and I was so curious to listen to this album that I decided to inaugurate my iTunes account by downloading it. After a short while, however, I realized that despite the LP was for sure a promising debut from a young musician, it resulted – at least for my tastes – less exciting than what I expected after reading the review. Since then I started to be a little more careful before proceeding with online purchases, trying to listen as much as possible before finalizing the download.

The kind of experimental music that has been conceived by Anja Plaschg for her career as Soap&Skin was since the beginning profoundly evocative, and also quite original. What didn’t convince me of her early works was that alongside some very good songs, objectively emotional and exciting to hear, there were many other tracks that resulted extremely intimate and overly personal, fragments of experiences that for sure represented something very important in the life of the artist but that were translated into music in a way that resulted, in my opinion, little communicative and poor in emotions for the external listener.

In the recent years I lost sight of this artist and therefore I was a little surprised (and curious) when I received the news of her new album, called From Gas to Solid / you are my friend.  But more than the news by itself, I was particularly impressed to discover how Anja Plaschg gained in confidence and maturity in years that have passed since their first two records.

 

 

Soap&Skin’s new LP is characterized many positive features. The style of her music is still experimental in nature and also permeated by a general atmosphere of darkness and anxiety. The palette of sounds, however, is much more varied and alongside the usual fragments of piano and other classical instruments we have today chamber choruses, lots of different percussion instruments, ambient noises and delicate layers of synths.

Flashes of light come from time to time to illuminate the darkness, and this makes the LP definitely more dynamic and enjoyable to hear. It’s as if a vein of positivity has been grafted into the music of the Austrian artist, and the resulting contrast between light and shadows makes the overall picture much more compelling. The delicate song Italy is maybe the perfect example of such more positive approach to music, and perhaps to life itself.

 

 

From Gas to Solid / you are my friend is the album that in my opinion marks the maturity of Soap&Skin. Some songs continue to be a bit too cryptic and not really comunicative, but for all those who appreciate dark wave songs, experimental neoclassic music and ambient atmospheres, this album will result definitely interesting to listen.

Soap&Skin’s new album can be streamed from Spotify.

Standout tracks: Italy, Safe With Me, Athom and the nice cover of Louis Armstrong‘s What a Wonderful World, which closes the LP.


 

Soap&Skin is featured also in CRESTS OF WAVES, the playlists that I’m curating on Spotify with all the best of indie and art pop.

 

 


 

Quick Review: “Young Romance” by Roosevelt

There are albums that seem to be made for playing in the backgroung and bring you good feelings and a boost in in positivity. Young Romance, the new album from German singer, DJ and producer Marius Lauber (who plays under the moniker of Roosevelt) is definitely one of these records. The music he wrote for his new album is in fact a clean and polished version of synth-pop that takes deep inspiration from the sound of the 80s, rich of sweet notes and pleasant atmospheres.

 

 

Young Romance is basically a nice collection singable and easy-listening vintage pop songs that manage to maintain a good level of originality and interest. There is in particular a streak of very good songs placed right in the middle of the disk which stand out for the enjoyability and the catchyness of the choruses, something that should guarantee high rotations in many music playlists (including mine).

With his second solo work, Marius Lauber continues his process of progressive departure from the world of indie electronic towards the wider shores of pop music. In doing this transformation he’s increasing the recourse to vintage sounds from the golden age of synth-pop, trying to make his music more fascinating and, in some way, characteristic. In many tracks of the new album this operation was certainly successful, even if there is an tangible gap between the best songs of Young Romance and the remaining ones, and this is perhaps the weakest aspect of Roosevelt’s new work.

Young Romance is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Highlights: Shadows, Pangea and Lucia.

 


 

As already mentioned in the review, Roosevelt is featured in CRESTS OF WAVES, the playlist which collects the best and latest indie pop songs. Listen to it, follow it, and spread the word!

 

 


 

 

Best New Music: MATTERS by Fröst

Sometimes the beauty of music hits you suddenly and through unexpected forms. A few days ago I had one of this experiences when I came across to an album from a formation that was completly unknown to me, called Fröst. I didn’t know what to expect from the album and its release notes, in true honesty, were a little ambiguous and not exactly evocative: “For fans of the likes of Broadcast, Silver Apples and Kraftwerk together, Frost create angular and electronic music by blending Motorik and hypnotic radiophonics into neatly wrapped often bilingual pop structures“.

Fortunately enough, good music uses a language that is typically more immediate and emotional than certain artificially complex and cryptic descriptions. And in the end, as soon as I started listening to the songs of Fröst’s debut abum, named Matters, the quality and beauty of this work cancelled in a few seconds all the doubts and the uncertainty that I had at the beginning. Also because if there is one single thing that Fröst’s music demonstrates unequivocally is that true beauty often lies in simplicity.

There are very few and also basic ingredients in the songs of Matters: we have catchy bass lines, electronic drums that are limited to a few sounds and which never deviate from elementary “motorik” four beats signatures, delicate touches of synths and, on top of that, an angelic voice that sometimes sings in English and sometimes in French. What is absolutely brilliant, instead, is the originality – and the class – that the artists have shown when combining together these simple elements. So, if I wanted to describe their music with the same simplicity of their sound, I would say: catchy and singable melodies transported into low-fi electronic music. As simple as that, but extremely satisfying to hear.

 

 

Fröst is a Brighton-based collaboration between French-Swedish sound artist and vocalist Johanna Bramli and synth player and producer Steve Lewis. Both artists have a fairly interesting past both as soloists and as members of other formations, but I am led to think that their collaboration for the album Matters is probably, so far, one of the most important stages of their career. The naturalness with which the songs of Matters develop one after the other is really impressive and this musical marriage beteween the two artists is something magical. It’s as if these two musicians were really born to play together: their music is extremely effective and complete, from all points of view.

 

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French-Swedish musician, composer and sound artist Johanna Bramli

 

Musically speaking, the strongest element of the album is for sure the melodic sensibility of the composers. The songs of Matters are actually simple and extremely linear in their structure, but they are never trivial or boring. When you hear the album you feel like you’re listening to melodies that you have always known, even if it’s not the case. And the beauty of these musical motifs is much stronger because of the lightness and the elegance of the arrangements, which are never exaggerated or out of context.

 

 

Last, but not least, it’s really satisfying and laudable that there are no gap fillers in the album. Each track has its reason to exist and, although clearly there is a group of songs that are more exciting and engaging than the others, the album in its entirety is really one that you can listen again and again, in perpetual repeat, without interruptions.

In summary: Matters is definitely an important and promising debut from a formation that has just appeared in the scene of electronic music. I really hope that the collaboration between Bramli and Lewis will continue in the next years and this won’t result as only one temporary stage in their careers.

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

 

 


 

TURN OFF THE NOISE: THE BEST INDIE POP OF 2018 (updated)

We like the energy of rock, the adrenaline of electronic music, the abrasive and heavy sounds of metal and the elegance of Jazz. But there are moments when we just need to turn off the noise, remove all worries, free our mind from every thought, and enjoy some happy and cheerful music. In these moments, nothing is better than a good indie pop record.

I’m collecting in this article a list with the best indie pop albums that were released in 2018, so far. This ranked chart is un update of the one that was presented on last March (it’s still available here) and it provides, evidently, a more complete representation of the status of indie pop in the year 2018. With respect to the previous edition we have now a larger number of albums with a few new entries (Wild Pink, Say Sue Me and Metric).

Discover the best indie pop albums of 2018 and don’t forget to visit periodically the pop section of the blog in order to check for updates of the chart and new reviews.


 

#1) Postcards, “I’ll Be Here In The Morning”

 

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Postcards is a Lebanese indie pop band formed in late 2012. After tthree EPs, their first full-length record, “I’ll be here in the morning“, was released on January 2018.

Many months have passed since the first time I introduced in this blog the debut album by Postcards, and it’s still firmly on top of the chart, and this obviously further increases the value of the album. And as I was writing at that time, it’s really exciting when you come across an album from a new band that leaves you leaves you so impressed. 

I’ll be here in the morning is the first album released by Postcards, a dreamy-pop & indie rock band formed in Beirut, Lebanon, on late 2012. Postcards describe their music as “hushed, introspective vocals floating over expansive sonic spaces that shift between harsh noise and dreamy soundscapes“. Such definition may be a little too complex and sophisticated, but there is no doubt that the music offered in this debut LP is of absolute value and it contains many elements of innovation, in particular when taking into account the current status of the indie pop scene.

One of the most exciting aspects of I’ll be here in the morning is that the songs seem as they are not completely defined and they moves between areas of lightness and sections more dark and meditative, with melodies that initially appear serene and peaceful but, during the development of the songs, start to show also ambiguous and subtly disturbing elements. The album is also characterized by a nice alternation of intimate songs and more angry and polemical moments. Finally, it’s worth to say that despite being at the beginning of a promising career, these four musicians show excellent songwriting skills and also an impressive musical sensibility. If Poscards will confirm these qualities in their future works, they are destined to do great things in music. And I will be there to remind you that I was one of those who discovered their value since the beginning.

Highlights: Waves and Bright Lights.


 

#2) Wild Pink, “Yolk in the Fur”

 

Wild Pink 1300
Wild Pink is an American band from the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. They have released so far two LP: 2017’s “Wild Pink” and this year’s “Yolk in the Fur”

Wild Pink, from New York City, is one of those emerging bands which try to find their own space in the music scene cultivating elegance and style rather than using commercial and marketing stratagems to get noticed and gain popularity. Wild Pink define themselves as an indie rock band, and their formation is in effect the typical trio with guitar/vocals, bass and drums. The music composed by these guys, however, tends to travel through the softer and quieter regions of the rock universe, on that blurred border that exists between rock and indie pop.

Wild Pink’s last full-lenght record, Yolk in the Fur, presents a fairly significant evolution of their style compared to their self-titled debut, especially for the adoption of a more classic and conventional structure of the songs. Compared to their first record, the sound of Wild Pink is slowly drifting towards more placid and quiet musical landscapes, rarely perturbed by guitar distortions and dissonances.

Musically speaking, Yolk in the Fur is characterized by placid rhythms and simple but intriguing melodies. Most of the songs are built on top of clean guitars, warm lines of bass and delicate layers of acoustic synthetizers. And there is of course the charming voice of John Ross, the leader and songwriter of the band, a singer who never needs to scream to tell his stories.

Highlights: Yolk in The Fur and Love is Better.


 

#3) David Duchovny, “Every Third Thought”

 

duchovny 1300.png
David Duchovny is a famous American actor, writer, producer, director, novelist, and singer-songwriter. “Every Third Though” is Duchovny’s second effort as musician.

Every Third Thought is the second studio album of American actor and singer David Duchovny, one of those artists who likes to challenge himself with different forms of expression. In addtion to looking for aliens and other mysteries, Duchovny has distinguished himself as a novelist, producer, and musician. It should be said, in this regard, that he writes and arranges his songs, thus showing qualities that go well beyond a nice presence on the stage and an interesting voice.

Although I had initially some skepticism about the album, I recognized in the end that Every Third Thought is definitely an interesting and appreciable collection of indie pop songs, with some of them that have been rotating frequently in different playlists.

Compared with Duchovny’s previous release (2015’s Hell or Highwater) the new album has gained in intensity and also energy: his sound today is definitely more “rock” the overall enjoyability of the album has benefited from such evolution.

Highlights: Every Third Thought and Mo’


 

#4) Say Sue Me, “Where we were together”

 

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Say Sue Me are a surf-inspired indie rock quartet from Busan, South Korea. Say Sue Me’s sophomore album “Where We were Together” was released in April 2018.

It was pretty amazing for me to find out that Say Sue Me is a band coming from South Korea. When I first listened to their songs, they appeared to me as one of the many  North American or European bands try to find their way into the music scene. I must admit that the particular origin of the band stimulated me to listen with more attention to their LP, Where We Were Together, which is the second disc of their discography (I missed their debut, my apologies). After listening to the whole record for a handful of times I started to get more attracted to their music and, in the end, I’m really happy that I gave them a second chance after the first (inattentive) try.

Where We Were Together features an ejoyable collection of small and luminous musical sketches, all of them cheerful and nice to hear. One of the strongest elements of their song is surely the delicate and angelic voice of the singer, who gives grace and atmosphere to all the record.

Where We Were Together seems to me the perfect music to be heard on my return home on Friday afternoons, when the tension of a week of meetings and commitments slowly dissolves into the promise of a weekend of serenity.

Highlights: But I Like You and Funny and Cute


 

#5) The Wombats, “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life”

 

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The Wombats are an English pop & rock band formed in Liverpool in 2003. The group met while they were in university and released several EPs before their debut LP in 2006. “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life” is the fourth studio album.

The Wombats, from Liverpool, have published in 2018 the fourth album of their career, named Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Since their initial formation in 2003, the band has experienced many changes in their style: from electronic/psychedelic music to post-punk revival, arriving to the current stage of their evolution in which their sound can be described as a nice blend of pop-oriented melodies with elements from indie rock and alternative dance. The mixtures of different influences and inspirations that they have practiced in all of their releases have always guaranteed freshness and innovation to their albums, something which is definitely confirmed in their last record.

Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life features quite a good number of extremely interesting and enjoyable pieces, although it’s not possible to hide the fact that alongside these tracks there are also a bunch of less convincing songs. Because of this gap it’s still possible to pick up the best tracks and enjoy them in playlists or compilations, but the experience of listening to the whole album results, in the end, much less enjoyable than it could have been if a little more focus was put on each single track of the LP.

Highlights: Turn and Lemon to a Knife Fight


 

#6) Calexico, “The Thread That Keeps Us”

 

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Calexico is an Arizona-based pop & rock band. Their musical style is influenced by traditional Latin sounds of mariachi, conjunto, cumbia and tejano mixed with country, jazz and post-rock. “The Thread That Keeps Us” is their tenth album.

It’s always a special moment when a band reaches the milestone of the tenth album of their discography and Calexico, the “desert noir” group founded more than twenty years ago by Joey Burns and John Convertino, has achieved this result in 2018 with their new album The Thread That Keeps Us.

The name of the group is that of the city of Calexico, on the border between the United States and Mexico, and this choice has always represented the stylistic choise adopted by these musicians in mixing genres and influences. Their latest album is no exception and we can in fact appreciate an enjoyable mix of Americana, folk and the usual references to the Latin musical tradition.

The songs which Calexico composed for The Thread That Keeps Us are always interesting and intriguing and this time, together with many “conventional” tracks, we may appreciate also a couple of attempts to experiment something different with respect to their usual style. Perhaps the LP lacks a particularly memorable song, but as a whole The Thread That Keeps Us is an enjoyable and very elegant, and it fully confirms the qualities that the band has shown in all of their discography.

Highlights: Voices in The Field and End of The World With You.


 

#7)  Metric, “Arts of Doubt”

 

Metric 1300
Metric is a Canadian rock band founded in 1998 in Toronto, Canada. They have published so far seven studio LPs and “Arts of Doubt” is their latest release.

Over the past fifteen years the sound of Metric has traveled several times, and in both directions, along the path which runs between synthpop and indie rock. And the new album by the Canadian band, Arts of Doubt, seems to represent in one single episode all the main stages of this travel. In certain songs we have a clear “rock and roll” feeling with guitars, bass and drums in the foreground, but there are many other parts of the album where the atmospheres and the sound are definitely “pop”, with triumphs of synthetizers and also hints to that mellow & downtempo style which characterized the early works of the band.

As always, the burden of keeping everything consistent is in the hands of Emily Haines and James Shaw, who have always been the driving forces of the band. Haines, in particular, delivers in some of the songs of the LP one of her best vocal performances. And Shaw’s guitar, glossy and sticky, always manages to gives cues and elements of great interest.

Arts of Doubt won’t be the absolute masterpiece of Metric’s career but it’s still an absolutely valid and interesting record, with a few songs that that remain deeply impressed in the memory and that will surely populate many of our playlists.

Highlights: Die Happy and Holding Out.


 

#8) Anna Burch, “Quit The Curse”

 

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Anna Burch is a singer / songwriter from Detroit, in the U.S. and “Quit the Curse” is her debut solo LP after many years spent as a supporting player.

Quit the Curse is the debut LP from Detroit singer/songwriter Anna Burch, and this record tells the story of a demo-tape arrived to the desk of Polyvinil during the summer of 2017, which caught the ears of the label and other artists of the caliber of Angel Olsen and The Black Keys, who eventually helped to develop the album.

The songs on Quite the Curse offer a low-fi version of indie pop with basic arrangments and simple melodies. Taken individually, most of the tracks look catchy and intriguing, and they also transmit nice sensations of positivity and lightness. The album as a whole, however, tends to be a little flat and monochord and perhaps this is the aspect that the American artist should focus on in view of the future releases.

Highlights: 2Cool 2 Care and Tea-Soaked Letter


 

Many of the songs presented in this article are part of CRESTS OF WAVES, the playlist I manage of Spotify with the best and latest indie pop songs.

 


Quick Review: “Yolk in the Fur” by Wild Pink

Wild Pink, from New York City, is one of those emerging bands which try to find their own space in the music scene cultivating elegance and style rather than using commercial and marketing stratagems to get noticed and gain popularity. Wild Pink define themselves as an indie rock band, and their formation is in effect the typical trio with guitar/vocals, bass and drums. The music composed by these guys, however, loves to travel through the softer and quieter regions of the rock universe, on that blurred border that exists between rock and indie pop;  this the kind of music which has as major exponents authors such as War on Drugs, Kurt Vile and, to some extent, Death Cab for Cutie (if you consider their early works).

Formed in 2017, Wild Pink have published so far two EPs and two LPs. Their last full-lenght record, Yolk in the Fur, presents a fairly significant evolution of their style compared to their self-titled debut, especially for the adoption of a more classic and conventional structure of the songs. Compared to their first record, the sound of Wild Pink is slowly drifting towards more placid and quiet musical landscapes, rarely perturbed by guitar distortions and dissonances. It’s like being on a beach at the end of the summer: the climate still carries the scent and the lightness of the sunny days that we enjoyed until a few weeks ago, but there are occasionally breezes of cold winds and also  black clouds that can obscure the light for a few minutes.

Musically speaking, Yolk in the Fur is characterized by placid rhythms and simple but intriguing melodies. Most of the songs are built on top of clean guitars, warm lines of bass and delicate layers of acoustic synthetizers. And there is of course the charming voice of John Ross, the leader and songwriter of the band, a singer who never needs to scream to tell his stories, like an old friend who sits beside you and calmly talks about the things he has observed during his absence.

Yolk in the Fur is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.

My favorite songs are Lake Erie, Love is Better and the opening track Burger Hill.


 

Best New Music: MUSIC TO MAKE WAR TO by King Dude

American songwriter Thomas Jefferson Cowgill is one of those artists who likes to range between extremely different forms of expression. In his brilliant musical career he now operates under the pseudonym of King Dude and with such new artistic identity he has already released a good number of excellent pubications. As a matter of fact, listening to King Dude’s discography one may think that’s it is practically impossible for him to publish low quality works and his latest record, Music to Make War To totally confirms this trajectory.

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T.J.Cowgill, former singer of Seattle’s heavy metal band Book of the Black Earth, emerged as an unusual singer-songwriter under the moniker of King Dude, pioneering a gloomy fusion of alt-country and goth folk.

 

Having changed over the years many elements of his style, the description of King Dude’s music can only be made derivatively. The last album, in this sense, could be described as a nice mixture of The National and Nick Cave, in which however the melodic elements of the songs always prevail over the more introspective aspect of the music. The result is a truly exciting collection of haunting but still extremely enjoyable songs. The album is plenty of that melancholy tone which has become one of the most recognizable elements of King Dude’s music (what’s sometimes referred to as “dark folk” or “goth folk”) but melancholy is partially alleviated through a lightness of approach and a musical simplicity which become sometimes totally disarming.

Many could argue that it’s just an attempt to conquer a wider audience with a simpler and lighter music. Whatever the reason behind Cowgill’s last evolution of his style, I find this operation absolutely successful. Undoubtedly King Dude’s figure seems today less “Luciferian” than in previous years, but every now and then it’s healthy and beneficial to refresh your own style rather than insist on an image of yourself that, in the long run, could dry away all the brilliance and inspiration that’s in your music.

Music To Make War To alternates relatively fast paced songs (Velvet RopeI Don’t Write Love Songs Anymore, and Dead on the Chorus) and other tracks that result much slower and atmospheric, such as the beautiful and haunting Twin Brother of Jesus, which sees our artist reaching extremely high peaks of expressive intensity.

 

The singing performance is really amazing. We move from moments where Cowgill looks as the reincarnation of Type of Negative’s Peter Steel, with his dark and full timbre, to other sections of the album where his style is more reminiscent of other legends of folk and American tradition as Nick Cave and Johhny Cash. In both cases, however, King Dude showcases a capacity for interpretation that is equal only to his skills as composer and songwriter. The instrumentation and the arrangements also range fluidly from acoustic and minimal moments to others sections where the music is enriched with electronic and synthetic inserts.

In summary: arrived to the seventh record of his great discography, King Dude has succeded in the apparent impossible operation to make catchy and somehow “radio friendly” songs which still convey the emotional intensity and – to same extent – the darkness that we appreciated in his previous and less accessible works. Will this be the point of arrival of King Dude’s stylistic evolution? I believe not. Presumably, as soon as we’ll hear his future songs, we will discover that Music to Make War To has represented only one of the many chapters of a musical journey that has still a lot to say.

 

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.


 

BEST ELECTRO POP OF 2018 (Episode 2, July 2018)

Now that we are at the height of summer it’s time to refresh our charts with the best albums of the year. Today we speak of the glittering world of electro pop; here we could enjoy a couple of new interesting entries after the first episode that was published a few months ago.

Let’s discover the updated list of the best electro pop albums of 2018. And, as usual, you’ll find at the end of the article the link to my Electro Pop playlist on Spotify.


 

#1) “HELLO WORLD” by SKYGGE

 

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Benoit Carré is a French singer, composer, musician and actor. He has written songs for some of France’s biggest stars, and in the recent times he collaborated with Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories in Paris to produce the pioneering album “Hello World”, which he released under the pseudonym of SKYGGE (“Shadow” in Danish)

Hello World, the experimental work by SKYGGE, was fully reviewed in a dedicated post when the album entered the Best New Music section of the blog. The album is the result of a research project in which scientists were looking for algorithms to capture and reproduce the concept of musical “style”. After a number of initial prototypes, a first group of electronic music artists joined the research team and at some point they took control of the process, and the scientific project became a music project. These artists were invited and coordinated by Benoit Carré (aka SKYGGE) and their work became the beautiful Hello World. The album is based on the idea to feed computer machines with sounds and melodies selected by every artist as input. Deep learning algorithms are then applied in order to allow the artificial intelligence module to elaborate and refine musical elements that are stylistically similar to the initial ones, but “new”.  From a musical point of view, the album is strongly influenced by European electronic music and in the end it results in an excellent collection of modern and forward thinking electronic tracks. And it’s not by chance that after many months, the album is still a the top of the electro pop chart.


 

#2) “EXORCISM” by Jenny Wilson

 

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Jenny Wilson is a Swedish singer-songwriter. She founded and played with First Floor Power until 2004, when she left the band to go solo. Since then she has released five LPs.

Exorcism, which is the fifth and newest LP released by Swedish Pop artist Jenny Wilson, tells in music the terrible story of a sexual assault that the songwriter experienced a few years ago while clubbing. This element by itself could guarantee for the album a deeper element of analysis and interpretation with respect to the typical electro-pop album, but the reality is that the feelings of tension, disturbance and anguish that are spread all-over the tracks of the record are evident and may be perceived even by the casual listener who doesn’t know the full story which is behind the album. The artist, however, managed to tell her painful story without ever making the music monotonous, didascalic and depressing. On the contrary, Exorcism features a collection of extremely interesting, varied and intriguing songs that disseminate their load of insecurity and alienation in an absolutely subtle way and, because of that, the result is extremely sharp and effective.


 

#3) “ANYWHERE BUT HERE” by Pola Rise

 

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Polish singer and composer Pola Rise Paulina Miłosz, working under the pseudonym of Pola Rise, appeared for the first time musically in 2014. Since then she has performed with various artists and in 1038 she released her first solo album, “Anywhere But Here”.

Anywhere But Here is the debut album from a new electro pop artist from Poland, Paulina Miłosz, who operates under the stage name of Pola Rise. She published a number of singles from 2014 and eventually got a record deal with Warner Music Poland, which supported the publication of her full lenght work. Her style of electronic music oscillates between pieces of clear experimental nature with notes of avant-garde, and more delicate and catchy songs, which in my opnion are also the ones that better highlight the qualities of this young artist. Anywhere But Here is particularly interesting because of the way in which it is able to give that “indie” feeling to a set of songs that, in their essence, result quite linear and without any particular dynamic development. The album offers the listener a nice collection of musical sketches, interesting and enjoyable to hear, gifted by a “light” touch make them the perfect companion for many moments of our days.


 

#4) “I CAN FEEL YOU CREEP INTO MY PRIVATE LIFE” by tUnE-YaRdS

 

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tUnE-yArDs is the music project of New England native Merrill Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner. tUnE-yArDs have released this year the fourth LP, which interrupts a period of 4 years since their previous full-lenght work.

Merrill Garbus, the US singer and songwriter who operates under the moniker of tUnE-YaRdS, never showed so far any lack of creativity and inventiveness. Indeed, from the beginning of her career she has maintained a minimalist approach to the choice of instruments and music styles almost as if she had the fear of covering, with an excess of effects and instruments, the essence of the motifs and the ideas which she was transforming into music. And if this approach may have precluded her the largest audiences, she still managed to leave her mark within the indie scene of the last decade. In tUnE-YaRdS‘ last album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, longtime collaborator Nate Brenner has become an official member of the project, and the duo confirms more or less the same approach of Garbus’ previous releases. Electronic hypnotic beats remain in fact the baseline over which we enjoy Garbus’ eclectic and thrilling vocal lines. The musical performance is not always up to the experimental ambitions of the duo, but where their desire to explore new paths for music manages to find an adequate sonic vehicle, their songs succeed in offering us a very pleasant escape from the monotony of our routines.


 

#5) “BORN BACKWARDS” by Sequin

 

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Since 2013 Sequin has become the solo project of Portuguese singer Ana Miró. Her first album “Penelope” was released in April 2014. In 2018 Sequin released “Born Backwards”, her sophomore album, produced by Xinobi.

Sequin is the solo project of Ana Miró, a Portuguese singer and electronic producer who has been also the lead vocalist for other two music projects (Jibóia and Heats). In Sequin’s bandcamp page the music composed by Ana Miró is desdribed as “electro pop” and “naive electro”. I believe however that these tags, by themselves, don’t reflect in full the special feeling that emerges from the delicate and intriguing songs of Born Backwards, which is the second album of original songs from Miró, after her debut work Penelope. The sytle of Sequin may be described as a minimalistic version of Bat For Lashes, with evident influences from both pop and club music. The most relevant characteristic of the album is for sure the warm and engaging voice of Ana Miró, who gives depth and charm to the simple and catchy electronic rhythms of her songs.


 

If you liked this article, you will for sure enjoy “ELECTRO POP“, the playlist I created on Spotify with the best and latest Electro Pop, Synth Pop, and Indie Electronic. Follow it, enjoy it, and spread the word!

 

 


 

 

 

 

BEST OF INDIE POP in 2018 / The Best Albums so far (March 2018)

The year 2017 was definitely an excellent one for Indie Pop and many good records were released across the many sub-genres of this style of music. We had also the possibility to appreciate how alongside established artists there were lots of interesting debuts.

This trend is fully confirmed in the first months of 2018. We had the pleasure to listen to a bunch of excellent works, including a few really interesting debut works, such as those by Postcards and Anna Burch.

I’m presenting in this post the best Indie Pop albums of the first months of 2018. If you arrived here through a search engine please check if thisis the most recent entry in this kind of chart; there will be for sure new updates in the next months of the year and you can access them via the pop section of the blog. Enjoy!

 


 

#1) I’LL BE HERE IN THE MORNING by Postcards

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Postcards, from Beirut (Lebanon)

One of the best moments in the life a music lover is when you come across a debut album that manages to leave you speechless. In the recent times I had this experience with I’ll be here in the morning, which is the first album released by Postcards, a dreamy-pop & indie rock band formed in Beirut, Lebanon, on late 2012. Postcards describe their music as “hushed, introspective vocals floating over expansive sonic spaces that shift between harsh noise and dreamy soundscapes“. Such definition may be a little too complex and sophisticated, but there is no doubt that the music offered in this debut LP is of absolute value and it contains many elements of innovation when taking into account the current indie pop scene. One of the most exciting aspects of the music of Postcards is that the songs are never completely defined but thery rather oscillate between moments of clarity and dark areas, with melodies that initially appear serene and peaceful but in the end contain always ambiguous (and subtly disturbing) elements. The disc is also characterized by an enjoyable alternation of intimate songs and more angry and polemical moments; everything is further enriched by excellent songwriting skills and a special musical sensibility wich gives the songs a special emotional intensity. If the band will confirm these qualities also in their future works, Postcards are destined to do great things in music.


 

#2) EVERY THIRD THOUGHT by David Duchovny

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David Duchovny, the American actor, writer, producer, director, novelist, and singer-songwriter

Every Third Thought is the second studio album of American actor and singer David Duchovny, one of those artists who challenged himself with different forms of expression and generally collecting positive results in every one of them. In addtion to looking for aliens and other mysteries, Duchovny has distinguished himself as a novelist, producer, and musician. It should be said, in this regard, that he writes and arranges his songs, thus showing qualities that go well beyond a nice presence on the stage and an interesting voice. Although I had initially some skepticism about this album, I shall say that Every Third Thought is definitely interesting and appreciable, with a few songs that are now rotating frequently in my music playlists. Compared with Duchovny’s previous release, his sound has now become more intense and definitely more “rock”, with positive effects on the quality of the album which gained variety and energy.


 

#3) BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE by The Wombats

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The Wombats, from Liverpool (England)

The Wombats, from Liverpool, have published the fourth album of their career, named Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Since their initial formation in 2003, the band has experienced many changes in their style: from electronic/psychedelic music to post-punk revival, arriving the current sound which blends pop-oriented melodies with elements from indie rock and alternative dance. In short, a mixture of influences and inspirations that has always guaranteed freshness and innovation to their albums, something which is somehow confirmed in their last record.  The album features a good number of extremely interesting and enjoyable pieces even if there is a certain gap in quality between the best tracks and the remaining songs of the album. This may be fine for picking up songs and composing mixes and compilations, but it makes the experience of listening to the whole album less enjoyable than it could have been with a little more focus and dedication on all single tracks.


 

#4) QUITE THE CURSE by Anna Burch

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Anna Burch, from Detroit, Michigan (USA)

Quit the Curse is the debut LP from Detroit singer/songwriter Anna Burch, and this record tells the story of a demo-tape arrived to the desk of Polyvinil during the summer of 2017, which caught the ears of the label and other artists of the caliber of Angel Olsen and The Black Keys, who eventually helped to develop the album. The songs on Quite the Curse offer a low-fi version of indie pop with basic arrangments and simple melodies. Taken individually, most of the tracks look catchy and intriguing, and they also transmit nice sensations of positivity and lightness. The album as a whole, however, tends to be a little flat and monochord and perhaps this is the aspect that the American artist should focus on in view of the future releases.


 

#5) THE THREAD THAT KEEPS US by Calexico

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Calexico, from Tucson, Arizona (USA)

It is always an important event in music when a band reaches the milestone of the tenth album of their discography and Calexico, the “desert noir” group founded more than twenty years ago by Joey Burns and John Convertino, has achieved this result in 2018 with their new album The Thread That Keeps Us. The name of the group is that of the city of Calexico, on the border between the United States and Mexico, and this choice has always represented the will of these musicians to mix genres and influences. And even in this latest album we can appreciate an enjoyable mix of Americana, folk and elements of latin music. The songs from Calexico are always interesting and intriguing and as usual,  together with many standard and traditional songs, we find in the album small sparks of experimentation. Perhaps there is a lack of a single memorable and epic song, but as a whole The Thread That Keeps Us is an enjoyable and elegant album which fully confirms the qualities of this band.


 

#6) INTROVERT’S PLIGHT by When We Land

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When We Land, from Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA)

When We Land is a four-piece indie rock band from Minneapolis, in the U.S., and Introvert’s plight is their debut LP. The band plays an accessible and soft kind of music that it’s mostly consisting of basic melodies and layers of effects. Their debut album is nice and smooth and there are a couple of catchy songs that are particularly enjoyable and that leave good hopes for the future.


 

If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in the following material that was published in the blog in the recent past:

  • The ranked list of the BEST INDIE POP ALBUMS OF 2017. The article includes a mixtape featuring all the best indie pop music released in 2017, it’s two hours of incredible music that you can’t absolutely miss.
  • There is a series of mixtapes fully dedicate to Indie Pop. It’s named CRESTS OF WAVES and it is one of the most appreciated of the S.B.G. blog. Check this out!

 

Last, but not least, I recommend you to access the beautiful CRESTS OF WAVES playlist that I manage on Spotify. It is updated frequently with only the best and latest songs.