Everyone can let out a larger than life sigh of relief; The glorious and ever-so-sweet synth-pop princess, Empress Of is back with a serious vengeance.
Lorely Rodriguez aka Empress Of is a lovely 25-year-old, LA-raised, Brooklyn-based artist with the dreamiest of voices and the most bumpin’ beats, which she apparently started making at the age of 17. According to this interview in Fader, Rodriguez also studied production and audio engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston before moving to NYC in 2011.
Some extremely talented artists come along, release a couple of obsessive-worthy tracks, disappear, and you hope like hell they reappear once again, but they never do. This luckily isn’t the case with Empress Of.
Have a listen to four amazingly slammin’ synth-pop tracks found on Me and rejoice in her reemergence. (p.s. The album is premiering and playing in full over at Hype Machine right now)
Empress Of – Kitty Kat
Empress Of – Standard
Empress Of – Water Water
Empress Of – How Do You Do It
The other night, I was stepping off BART when a late-20s-something guy waiting for a train going the opposite direction perked his head up, twisted his neck in my direction, and looked me right in the eyes.
I see this as I’m still three people deep from exiting the train, and I’m curious, but also cautious. Do I encourage this behavior by engaging with his stare, or am I asking for trouble?
Once I reach the platform, I look back at him and take a right out of the train towards the stairs. Before I quickly disappear out of range, the guy yells across the platform at me, “Can I ask you a question?!” I continue to walk towards the exit, but I turn to look at him, and raise my eyebrows out of curiousity.
He takes this as a yes, and projects even louder now that I’m further away. “Has anyone ever broken your heart!?” he shouts. I turn my head back towards him, consider whether I should even participate, then give him a sincere and hearty, “YES!” He’s taken aback by my answer, but he smiles, then looks down into his lap and crumples his face in confusion and pain. He shoots his head back up and shouts back at me, “WHY!?” I took the corner, and up the escalator I went.
Why would someone ever break my heart? Good question. It isn’t easy trying to navigate the “why” of heartbreak. I just know it’s really fucking painful, and I’m not very good at handling it well. Which brings me to Widowspeak.
The dreamy, psych-folk rock, “earth tone pop” duo out of Brooklyn, NY has perfectly captured the wavelengths heartbreak creates with their latest, insanely beautiful jams. The songs can be found on Widowspeak‘s latest album, “All Yours.” It’s due out September 4th, and is titled after one of their most gorgeous, and accessible tracks about heartbreak aftermath. The album is also currently streaming on KCRW.
I highly recommend you soak in the essence of these jams, but with this word of warning: these beautiful tracks may elicit some serious sadness or nostalgia, ignite flames of heartache, and leave you wondering, “WHY!?” Enjoy:
Widowspeak – All Yours
Widowspeak – Dead Love (So Still)
Widowspeak – Girls
Mozart’s Sister has been one of my most consistent musical obsessions over the last three years. I’ve been clinging on to her 3-track EP, Dear Fear, originally self-released in 2011, for what feels like an eternity.
Caila Thompson-Hannant aka Mozart’s Sister re-released Dear Fear as Hello in 2013 with the addition of one more track via Merok Records. With little-to-no news about further releases, my consistent anticipation for amazing electro-pop pureness from the Montreal-hailing songstress remained faithful.
Today, news of her debut album, Being, is finally here, and it’s due out August 5th (!!!) via Asthmatic Kitty Records. We’re also given a glimpse of the record with the release of a new track and video for, “Enjoy.”
According to Asthmatic Kitty, “inspired by Discovery-era Daft Punk, Post-era Bjork, and Betty Davis, Caila produced, recorded and wrote Being using a cheap sound card and Ableton software, approaching it with a do-it-all-by-my-self ideology… ‘Being is a fracture,’ says Caila. ‘A note between thought and expression. When I wrote this record I was riding a wave of light and dark; I still am. It’s not a twisted path but one that aspires to harmony. In all the little bits that make up the bulk of the ‘songs’ of this album is a jump. So here I am jumping into your mercy, a leap I will never forget. I feel the future can only bring better or worse and definitely not the same. So this record is a thing that will never happen again. I hope you enjoy it.'”
Oh, Tom Krell, you’re simply the best! How to Dress Well, the moniker for the beloved Chicago-Brooklyn-Berlin based soulful singer-songwriter with twinkling eyes and a magnetic stage presence has announced this morning the arrival of a new LP, What is This Heart? The album is due out June 23rd (UK, Europe)/24th (USA) via Weird World and Domino including a deluxe limited edition LP. On his blog Krell stated, “The deluxe lp is sooooo special and amazing, really excited to share it w uuuuu xoxoxoxox <3.”
Have a listen to two lovely new singles from the highly anticipated album: “Repeat Pleasure,” and “Words I Don’t Remember”
What is This Heart? tracklist:
1. 2 Years On (Shame Dream)
2. What You Wanted
3. Face Again
4. See You Fall
5. Repeat Pleasure
6. Words I Don’t Remember
7. Pour Cyril
8. Precious Love
9. Childhood Faith In Love (Everything Must Change, Everything Must Stay The Same)
10. A Power
11. Very Best Friend
12. House Inside (Future Is Older Than The Past)
How to Dress Well – Repeat Pleasure
How to Dress Well – Words I Don’t Remember
I know it’s April fool’s day and all, but I can’t be bothered to actually pull any pranks (I’m terrible at ’em anyway). I do, however, have some very real and amazing news about what else today represents: Album release day; hooray! Three very different, but talented and beloved bands, Timber Timbre, Mac DeMarco and Pure X have all released brand new LPs, Hot Dreams, Salad Days and Angel, on this fit for tricks day. Whether you’ve already been stumped, deluded and/or duped today, I bring you some refreshing musical truth:
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams via Arts & Crafts
Timber Timbre is a dark, beautiful, semi-spooky, and sometimes described as “swampy” Canadian folk project and trio made up of Taylor Kirk, Simon Trottier and Mika Posen. Their moniker refers to a timber-framed cabin set in the wooded outskirts of Bobcaygeon Ontario where they made an early series of recordings. Hot Dreams is their 5th (yes, 5th!) album.
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
Timber Timbre – Curtains?!
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days via Captured Tracks
Oh, Mac DeMarc0. He’s everyone’s favorite goofy, guitar slingin’ Canadian crooner (who’s now currently residing in Brooklyn). Since the release of his wacky LP, Rock and Roll Night Club in 2012 (technically his first album), and the blow up of his second album, Mac DeMarco 2, that soon followed after, the 23-year-old seems to be on a never-ending whirlwind tour of mischievousness. Banging out Metallica covers, smoking endless cigarettes, and playing his catchy, crooner crowd pleasers to thousands over and over again, Mac may look tired, but no one is of his music. He’s come a long way since his days of Rock and Roll Night Club. With the release of Salad Days, which touches on more personal and semi-serious tops, like the inability for his long-time girlfriend, “Kiki” to stay legally in the United States in “Let My Baby Stay,” it seems as if Mac’s all grown up… kind of.
Mac DeMarco – Passing Out Pieces
Mac DeMarc0 – Brother
Pure X – Angel via Fat Possum
Pure X is Austin, Texas’s billowy, psychedelic chillwave quartet (formerly known as Pure Ecstasy). Angel is the group’s 3rd album and according to their LP promo material, Angel was written and recorded over just 5 days in a hundred-year-old dance hall situated in a small town in central Texas. Drummer Austin Youngblood described the album as “a record for the ladies, about the ladies.” Now, who can resist?
Pure X – Starlight
Pure X – Heaven
Oh, to be 17 again. Your days are filled with grilled cheese sandwiches, school dances, day dreams of crushes, boredom-induced chaos with friends, hormones and lots of angst. Luckily, this all makes for some ridiculously catchy and dreamy garage pop.
Enter: Cherry Glazerr, the LA-based three-piece whose 17-year-old frontwoman and guitarist, Clementine Creevy has being a “Teenage girl” down to a T, because she is one… duh. Cherry Glazerr, whose name is a take on local Southern California KCRW anchor, Chery Glaser, recently released their sugary adrenaline-filled debut album, Haxel Princess, via Burger Records. One listen and you’ll be hooked like a teen on… whatever they’re hooked on these days. It’s been a while.
Cherry Glazerr – Trick or Treat Dancefloor
Cherry Glazerr – Grilled Cheese
Cherry Glazerr – All My Friends
Cherry Glazerr – White’s Not My Color This Evening
Wet is a new up-and-coming Brooklyn-based trio creating some steady hubbub in the music blogosphere. They’re producing ridiculously catchy, beautiful and refreshing pop songs (with heavy themes) at a consistent rate. Today, their self-titled EP is officially out (stream below), which has been a bright and sparkling joy in my listening life as of late.
If you’re gallivanting through the madness at CMJ Music Marathon in NYC this week, Wet is playing tonight (10/15) at the Bowery Ballroom, The Fader Fort at Converse Rubber Tracks, as well as the Santos Party House for Neon Gold’s Showcase (with HEARTS) on Thursday, 10/17, and Baby’s All Right on Friday, 10/18.
Roberto Carlos Lange aka Helado Negro is one of the most magnetic and magical performers to see live. There’s nothing crazy or outlandish about his sets, but his voice is whimsical and romantic and his eclectic, ambient, electric beach jams from space have a way of moving your hips and locking you into a cloud of dreamy musical bliss.
Helado Negro‘s 2013 LP, Invisible Life has been a serious staple of constant listening pleasure since its release in March. As luck would have it, Lange has been hard at work and recently released his latest EP, Island Universe Story Two (which you can buy here, and on cassette!) via Asthmatic Kitty Records. At the beginning of August, Lange tweeted out a list of 50+ artists and songs, all of which were apparent influences when creating the EP, some of which include Stevie Wonder, Ice-T and… Eddie Murphy? Interesting choices, especially after you have a listen. The new EP is full of crazy beats, exotic synth and fuzzy, dreamy vocals that’ll make you scream for more Helado Negro aka black ice cream.
Stream Helado Negro‘s new EP on Bandcamp or Spotify and be sure to catch the man in action. He’s currently on tour along with Javelin, Spiritualized, the Breeders, John Cale, Big Boi, Suuns and The High Highs.
Helado Negro – We Will You
Helado Negro – Enters
For all you recording and sound engineering aficionados, here’s a mini documentary by Weathervane Music showing behind-the-scenes footage of producing/recording a Helado Negro song. (Watch even more videos from this recording here).
Music slumps are serious business. Only the freshest, synth-tastic, moving and/or funkiest of sweet sounds can dig you out of the black pit of despair that comes with a lack of enthusiasm for any new music out there. Friends don’t let friends get stuck in music slumps. This is why I’m ever so grateful for friends (or lovers – Oooh la la) who’ve passed along the following gems that’ll cure the the most lonely, stagnant and discouranging of music slumps:
Mortar and Pestle is an “avant pop” trio from Oakland, California who exude funk and bring deliciously sweet synth and dark beats to life on stage. The near-and-dear to my heart musician/audio producer/engineer, Bryan Lovett was mixing Mortar & Pestle at San Francisco Magazine’s 2013 “Best of the Bay” party when he sent me their details and exclaimed, “Think you’d really dig ’em!” And just a few days later to our pleasant surprise, Mortar & Pestle opened for Prince Rama, the electrotastic, weird, wild & whacky sister duo from Brooklyn. Both bands put on ridiculously fun and energetic shows, and I danced harder than I have in a long time – Way to bring it! We snatched up Mortar & Pestle‘s recently released and self-titled debut which can easily and obsessively be repeated. Find Mortar & Pestle on Facebook, Bandcamp, and/or Soundcloud.
Prince Rama also debuted their musical masterpiece of a film (that was created thanks to Kickstarter) featuring songs from their album, Top Ten Hits of the End of the World – It’ll leave you thinking, “Am I on drugs right now, or are they?” Both bands are a must-see live, especially if you’re in the pits of musical apathy.
Mortar and Pestle – U.V.
Mortar and Pestle – Pristine Dream
Shortcircles is the electro-pop project of Oakland, California-based (way to represent East Bay) producer, Matt Tammariello. Lovely friends and music aficionados at Professional Fans recently held one of their up-and-coming new music showcases here in San Francisco featuring Shortcircles and I was instantly hooked. Luckily for us, Shortcircles released his sophomore album, Between Waves (via Plug Research Records) for our listening pleasure. Enjoy:
Shortcircles – All I Can Be for You
Hospital Ships is a Lawrence, Kansas-based indie-folk-pop group and “bedroom project” of Jordan Geiger. I heard Hospital Ship‘s hauntingly addictive jam, “Remaining Light” on friend, music writer and radio host, Anthony Carew’s weekly two hour Melbourne, Australia-based radio program, International Pop Underground – An amazing source of ecclectic music discovery. Their latest LP, Destruction in Yr Soul was released June 18th via Graveface Records. Have a listen for some all-Americana jams – perfect timing for USA’s Independence Day:
Hospital Ships – Remaining Light
Hospital Ships – If It Speaks
Raphaelle Standell-Preston is a busy woman. As the vocal half of the ambient dream-pop “love project,” Blue Hawaii, and vocalist in the electro-pop “art rockers” group, Braids, Raphaelle’s dynamic voice is keeping electro music in Montreal alive and beautiful.
Blue Hawaii has been in the spotlight as of late – They released a new album this year, Untogether, which was received with incredible praise, and headed out on a whirlwind tour with electro Canadian comrades and bffs, Purity Ring. However, Braids is now having its well-deserved shining moment… again.
Braids made waves with their 2011 debut LP, Native Speaker, establishing themselves as a “promising band.” With two new recent releases, “In Kind” and “Amends,” Braids is back and it appears they’re keeping up with the reputation. However, the blend and undistinguished sound between Blue Hawaii and Braids has become even more apparent amongst fans – but can you really complain? Have a listen and decide: