"Faith" by I Break Horses // Chiaroscuro (Out 1.20.14 via Rough Trade)
The Swedish duo, I Break Horses, is due back with a new full length in January, and they’ve also recently dropped a video for their second single, “Faith”. The new track is a surprising shift from the bend who’s previous efforts have fallen into a more dreamy, electro shoegaze sound (see M83). This time around you’re likely to hear a sound resembling something more akin to The Knife - with it’s warbling synth lines and machine gun beat. The video, directed by Magnus Hardner features stark black and white photography of teenagers doing teenager things (parties, bikes, and ultimately a late night pool party), while moving in slow motion. It’s a simple concept that works extremely well against the heavier sound. The new album promises a combination of the light and the dark (hence the name which means just that, in Italian), and I for one cannot wait.
Ali & Matthias from ‘You And The Night’ Soundtrack
"Ali & Matthias" by M83 // You and the Night (Out Digitally 11.19.13 via Mute)
Anthony Gonzalez (M83)has been bit by the film score bug. After already releasing the score this year’s sci-fi flick, "Oblivion", he’s now back with the score to his brother, Yann's new film, “You and the Night”. This time around, the first taste is “Ali & Matthias” and it reveals a much more delicate and romantic tone than the otherworldly "Oblivion". Gonzalez says that the score was inspired by French film soundtracks of the 70’s. It also has a little Danny Elfman touch, but then again I can’t say that all fairy tale and whimsical scores are indebted to the man. At any rate, it’s a gorgeous little lullaby - or as Gonzalez said it’s a score for “lovers and ghosts”. Sounds about right.
"Oostende" by Keep Shelly in Athens// Dir. Brendan Canty & Conal Thomson
I feel like I don’t post enough music videos that are truly great representatives of the songs that they represent. When one does come around, it can feel like a punch to the stomach as it engages you emotionally. Sometimes, they’re just cool as hell visuals that work their own magic. Then there are things like “Oostende” by Keep Shelly in Athens, which was already one of the best songs of the year and then in the hands directors, Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson, it becomes a gorgeous travelogue that tries to bridge the distance between two long distance lovers before what might be something apocalyptic happens. Whatever the interpretation, it’s a beautiful representation of a stunningly good song. Enjoy. It’s rare that the match up is this good.
Miami Horror - "Colours In The Sky" (feat. Cleopold)
"Colours in the Sky (ft. Cleopold)" by Miami Horror // Colours in the Sky 7” (Out Now via Neon Gold)
Miami Horror has gone and dropped a second single, while still not nailing down any information on the forthcoming full length. No matter. When the singles come out this good, who needs to be bothered with full lengths anyway. “Colours in the Sky” finds the Australian four-piece stretching their waves of euphoric electronics around some old school 70’s AM gold harmonies, which are assisted by vocalist, Cleopold. The lush choral vocals and twinkling keys call to mind The Polyphonic Spree, if they were produced by M83. It’s hard not to get your foot tapping with this infectious electro pop beauty. Hopefully, we’ll soon have some more concrete info on a new full length - in the meantime, it’s good to have singles like this to pass the time.
The Cinematic Orchestra has been responsible for some heartbreakingly beautiful music. Part of that is surely due in part to the contributions by collaborator Phil France, who recently release his gorgeous, haunting solo piece - The Swimmer. The Swimmer is a seven track suite that plays like in imagined score for a film that doesn’t exist. One listen to the title track and you’ll start to see that France is a talent to be reckoned with all his own. The hypnotic, piano led beauty calls to mind the eerie work of John Carpenter's synth heavy film scores, but with more of a delicate longing, than an intense pressure. By the time the haunting strings push through in the back half, it feels like you're hearing some stirring Phillip Glass-esque finale, but filtered through a four minute pop song. The entire piece of gorgeous and riveting and absolutely something that requires being heard.
"They Don’t Know" by White Sea // They Don’t Know (Out Now via iTunes)
White Sea is the solo project of Morgan Kibby (M83) and after a short time away, she’s back with news of a new album for 2014 (called "In Cold Blood") and even better, a taste of the forthcoming release. “They Don’t Know” is a soaring electro-pop anthem, not completely unlike her work with M83, that takes full advantage of Kibby’s gorgeous vocals and uses them as layers to build the lush backdrop of the track. Kibby’s work as White Sea could be described as the more ethereal and feminine version of Anthony Gonzalez's M83. Here on “They Don't Know”, she matches him beat for beat in crafting a stunning, larger than life anthem that would sound as great exploding from stadium speakers as it does pumping through headphones. Highest recommendation.
"Shot At the Night" by The Killers and M83 // Direct Hits (Out 11.11.13 via Island)
A while back it was announced that The Killers had entered the studio to cut a track with Anthony Gonzalez of M83 for their forthcoming greatest hits collection. That track has finally made it’s way out into the world and it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a collaboration between them. The Killers have never been one to shy away from tackling a massive, widescreen anthem - and after the last M83 album, it’s clear that Gonzalez is pretty damn solid going big as well. Here, Gonzalez manages to take the synth-pop-Springsteen sounds of the Killers and bring them back down to earth temporarily - allowing the song to breathe in with a quiet dance beat before ramping up into a soaring, dance-floor-meets-stadium chorus that makes for a pretty great late night epic that will play well to fans of both bands.
"Claudia Lewis" by M83 // Dir. Bryce Dallas Howard
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost two years since M83 dropped the wonderful, super-sized "Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming". Luckily, there’s a new reminder of the excellence that filled the space on that album, in the form of a new music video for the electro anthem, “Claudia Lewis”. The video is directed by Bryce Dallas Howard (of the Hollywood Howards // daughter of Ron) and stars Lily Collins (of the eyebrows and the Beverly Hills Collins’ // Daughter of Phil). The short film/video comes from MTV’s “Supervideo” series in which they get famous folks to put together videos for hot indie bands. Previous entries include Drew Barrymore's video for Best Coast's “Our Deal” (starring Chloe Moretz) and David Ayer's take on LCD Soundsystem's “Pow Pow” (starring Anna Kendrick). Of course, no snark here - whatever gets quality music played on MTV is fine by me.
Dublin based electro-experimentalists, Forrests, have recently released their debut EP, "Wilder", which announces the duo as an act to watch in the coming months. As a whole, the sound that develops over the six tracks that comprise "Wilder" finds a sweet spot between the ethereal beauty of some of The Album Leaf's earlier works, crossed with the rhythmic pulse of Fuck Buttons, and the otherworldly scope of Boards of Canada. On standout single, “Billions”, the duo builds from a shimmering synth pulse to a widescreen wonder that soars on a scattershot beat with lush ambient textures and a sighing choral vocal sample that combine to form something absolutely stunning. It’s an electro shoegaze hum with heart. A killer debut EP. Highly recommended.
I haven’t had the opportunity to pile on the appropriate amount of love that I feel for Postiljonen's stunning new album, “Skyer”, so I'll just start making up for that now. Here is the official video for “Atlantis”, the new single from Postiljonen, and also one of the best songs to come down the line in quite a while. The video, directed by Ty Olsen, is an appropriately sexy and cinematic piece of film that sometimes feels like a high-end car commercial, but nevertheless fits the tracks gorgeous, neon hued, trip through the night. Definitely something that does the track some justice.
"Denial" by I Break Horses // Denial 12” (Out Soon via Bella Union)
It’s been a couple of years since we last heard from the Swedish duo, I Break Horses. Luckily, that absence just came to an end with the release of their new 12” single, “Denial”. The new track finds the duo tackling more of a straight up electro pop jam, shaking loose the powerhouse synths used to create the shoegaze goodness of 2011’s brilliant album, Hearts. Last time around it felt like the band was getting the M83 comparison a little too frequently, but the shoe fit, and that’s in no way a knock on the band. This time around I’d say that “Denial” has more in common with recent output of Chromatics. The waves of synths and electro beats all flow with a shadowy dance floor beauty, but it’s not an upbeat number - instead it’s something of a lonely experience on this dance floor, but that’s what makes the whole thing stand out as something special. Highest recommendation
London based synth poppers, Ecstasy, is back on their Soundcloud page, posting new excellence. This time, the band find themselves delving into the dreamy world of electro-shoegaze - crafting a widescreen anthem that calls to mind M83 and Cut Copy. “Teenage Coma” is as infectious as all hell, starting with it’s waves of humming synth textures and carrying right onto the sing-along chorus and driving beat that keeps the momentum for the full duration of the song, making it damn near impossible not to want to get up and move. This track is one of the standouts of recent months and has found it’s way into repeat listens for the past few days and I don’t see any sign of stopping. It’s just a tremendous pop song. One of the summer’s best.
"Laura is Fading" by Jesse Ruins // A Film (Out Now via Lefse Records)
It feels like it’s been a while since I last heard the spaced out electro-shoegaze of Jesse Ruins. Luckily, the Tokyo trio is back with a new album on Lefse Records that is brimming with swirling synths, pulsing beats, and otherworldly ambiance. “Laura is Fading” is the first taste of the newly released album, and it’s pretty special. A sturdy electro beat pulsates through reverberating synth lines, while a warped vocal track floats above buzzing electro textures. It all comes together effortlessly, sounding like a cross between “Dead Cities…” era M83 and “10,000 Hz Legend” era Air - which, if you ask me, is quite an excellent sound. Highly recommended.
"Limits of Desire" by Small Black // Limits of Desire (Out Now via Jagjaguwar)
Small Black's Limits of Desire is one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and over the past few weeks, I have spent a large chunk of time pouring over the album's contents. Soaking in every soaring synth line and airy vocal hook that the album has to offer, and there are many. The one song that immediately grabbed my attention on first listen and has continued to demand the most replays, is the title track. “Limits of Desire” is a fairly straight forward synth pop venture for the band, but there's something else at play that really captivates me and it's the somber, yet uplifting tone of the song. Ethereal waves of airy synths glide over a lovely vocal melody, as a pulsing bass line and drum beat form a heartbeat through the spaced out atmosphere of the track. It's a stunning beauty and for me at this point in the year, this is my favorite song of 2013 (so far). For me, it's a perfect pop song.
"Russians" by pacificUV // After the Dream You Are Awake (Out 5.14.13 via Mazarine Records)
The new PacificUV album drops in a little less than a month and the pre-release tracks are starting to trickle out and they’re certainly doing their job of building anticipation for "After the Dream You Are Awake". “Russians” is one of the tracks found on the new album and it’s a synth powered blast of space rock with a driving electro beat and an urgent sense of dread hovering above. It also finds the band stepping outside of it’s more comforting, blissed out dream pop by way of shoegaze sounds, and venturing into darker, more post punk rhythms, which is a nice fit. The new album drops on the 14th of May and if this track is any indication, we’re in for something really special. Highly recommended for fans of Cold Cave, New Order, and M83.