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:
Wise Blood is the moniker of Pittsburgh native and experimental electro-pop producer, Christopher Laufman. He, as Pitchfork so eloquently stated, “appeared out of left field” in 2010, and wooed ears over in 2011 with his clean EP, These Wings. After some silence, Wise Blood is back and he’s donning jams that’re more smooth, soulful and poppy than ever – They also coincidently seem to commonly mention rats and/or rat poison (okay, it’s just two jams). Regardless, Wise Blood’s experimental pop gems will sweep you off your feet.
“Rat” and “Universe is Blessed” can both be found on Wise Blood‘s forthcoming and debut album, id, due out June 25th via Dovecote Records. Welcome Wise Blood back into the well-deserved limelight with a thorough listen:
Wise Blood – Rat
Wise Blood – Universe is Blessed
The weather warmed up in San Francisco this past week for a hot minute – Our (one and only) glimpse of a true summer. So naturally, all San Franciscans piled into parks, crammed onto bar patio benches, threw on floppy hats and maxi dresses, and put our instagramming hands in the air to capture the clear blue sky, like we REALLY care. Alas, the moment has passed us, and our real “Summer is Coming,” which means chilly wind and eerie fog thicker than Turkish coffee. So with that, I bring to you a fresh track roundup of hot new tracks for cool days, or for cooler heads, depending on your geographical preference:
Joywave is a Rochester, New York-based electro/experimental group mastering in mixtapes. They released their mixtape, 77777, back in March of ’11 and just released a follow-up with, you guessed it, 88888. According to Interview Magazine, “The process behind Joywave‘s upcoming mixtape is an intriguing exercise in self-improvement. … frontman Daniel Armbruster, created a record that is not comprised of new material, but rather rethinks and reintroduces material from the band’s debut EP, Koda Vista. This idea is rooted not only in the dance and hip-hop tradition of the remix, but also in the paintings of Expressionist painter Edvard Munch, who famously remade the same painting several times, in order to best communicate with his audience.”
The rework and re-visitation of Joywave‘s previous material is obviously doing them justice, as “Tongues,” a new single found on 88888, is sickeningly addictive and has fiercely shot up to the top the blogosphere charts. Have a listen to “Tongues” and download 88888 for free on Joywave’s site:
Joywave – Tongues (feat. KOPPS)
Dead Ghosts is a quad garage rock band hailing from the depths of Vancouver, British Columbia whose sound has been described as, “raunchy lo-fi, country-esque, sweet guitar pluck-and-jangle.“ Listen to “Roky Said” a nostalgic-inducing, rockin’, “garage fuzz” psychedelic jam found on their recently released LP, Can’t Get No, via Burger Records:
Dead Ghosts – Roky Said
Ooh Wampire. Let me count the ways in which I’ve idiotically missed you play, and how I’m always kicking myself for doing so. The Portland, Oregon-based indie-pysch-rock-pop band was created by longtime bffs, Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps. The two “started jamming in 2001” while in middle school. Now, Wampire is signed to Polyvinyl and has been on tour with friends, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (who also produced their debut). Wampire won me over with their trippy track, “The Hearse,” and I’ve been throughly addicted since. Wampire‘s new LP, Curiosity, is due out May 14 and you can stream the entire album in advance on Pitchfork. Don’t miss these guys!
Wampire – Trains
Wampire – The Hearse
Hot & Cold is the collaboration of two young 20-something Canadian brothers, Josh and Simon Frank. The boys produce trippy, abstract, catchy, drone synth-rock and apparently made their first live debut in Beijing, of all places. According to an interview with Vice, the transnational brothers, while in Beijing, “earned a spot alongside the Rose Mansion Analog crew, joining the ranks of the Offset:Spectacles and Soviet Pop.” Have a listen to “Out of the Grey” an addictive single from Hot & Cold’s new LP, Border Area, via Moniker Records:
Hot & Cold – Out of the Grey
Phèdre is one of my all-time favorite wacky electro Canadian duo/bands, and that’s saying a lot ‘cus there are so many to choose from! Phèdre released their self-titled debut album just last year and left many hungry for more. Luckily, they’re currently in the album-producing mood and are in the process of finalizing another LP, Golden Age. “We spent the darkest days of the winter writing a new record in Berlin. We made a collage for each song. We’re gonna put this out into the universe real soooooon.” They’re also currently producing a spontaneous “ongoing record,” Eterna, in which they’re “droppin’ tracks as they come.” Listen to “Zenith,” the first track from, Eterna:
Phèdre – Zenith
Kisses is an LA-based electro-pop duo made up of Jesse Kivel & Zinzi Edmundson. Their sophomore album, Kids in LA, is due out May 14th via Cascine and was produced by Saint Etienne’s Pete Wiggs. Kisses is also currently and appropriately on tour with Chad Valley – A surefire dance party in the making. Have a listen to “Air Conditioning,” Kisses‘ synthtastic gem from the new LP:
Kisses – Air Conditioning
I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. Uneasiness and uncertainty were oozing from my pores like booze after a liquor drenched bender. However, the undeniable and surprising cure-all that stopped my anxiousness dead in its tracks was the unusual, breath-taking and magnetic sound, voice and lyrics of artist, Jenny Hval.
The Norwegian singer-songwriter just released her fourth album, Innocence is Kinky, produced by longtime PJ Harvey collaborator, John Parish. The boundaries Hval pushes in her latest album lyrically and musically, especially with her lightening-quick voice transformations is all-consuming.
In an interview with The Guardian, Hval explains her lyrics for Innocence is Kinky “draw on a dark pool of influences, from the crimes of Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik to Paris Hilton… In her songs, the female body gets lost, burned, chucked out to sea – anything to break it free of the media or male gaze. ‘When you listen to this and to these lyrics, the body could be anything, anywhere.'”
On her site, Hval states that Innocence is Kinky was also heavily influenced by her artistry, as it’s also the name of her 25 minute long sound and light installation. She channeled her desire to play more abrasively in comparison to her 2011 album, Viscera. “I found myself getting more and more aggressive on stage with this material, wanting to play louder instead of working with acoustic, hushed soundscapes, but I didn’t know how. I wanted to sing louder, channel this energy, sharpen all edges, loosen the structures… I was drawn to music very much exploring that position – particularly Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld and Michael Gira. To work with these powerful expressions – and failing miserably with my voice and body – was creating a specific energy I found necessary for the album.”
Innocence is Kinky is out now via Rune Grammofon. Have a listen two magnetic tracks from the album:
Jenny Hval – The Seer
Jenny Hval – Mephisto in the Water
While wandering the streets of Austin, Texas in the chaos that is SXSW, I received an email from New Zealand born, London-hailing Sarah Kelleher. In that email contained links to these sultry and hypnotic “minimal wave” tracks that make up Kelleher’s music project, Misfit Mod.
Misfit Mod‘s fragile yet catchy gems like “Queen Love Zero,” and “Cars” can be found on her recently released debut LP, Islands & Islands via Brooklyn boutique record label, Stars & Letters.
Kelleher stated in her email that she’s “really into bands like Gang Gang Dance, TLC and Arthur Russell.” The random combination of Misfit Mod‘s influences is obviously working in her favor, as she’s created a plethora of seductive, magnetic jams. Have a listen for yourself and find Misfit Mod on SoundCloud and/or Facebook.
Misfit Mod – Queen Love Zero
Misfit Mod – Cars