Mix

Heart Beat Rock: Dance-Pop Divas of the 2000’s

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One of my biggest gripes with our current poptimism is the centering on the 10s hence little interest in the 2000s’ many great trends: the glitzy vibrant synths, the neon 80s meeting this decade’s warm late-night ‘coolness’, the slick sturdy grooves in a fast tempo, the punchy beats. Oh, and vocals that didn’t fall into the same 3 riffs over and over! I could go on.

From Xenomania to Richard X and funky-house to the Norwegian scene’s icy synths, this mix dives into the styles I miss the most from this decade’s dance-pop. I hope for it to bring you some good carefree fun and an escape in this fraught summer. I also hope that it can motivate poptimism’s many many 10s enthusiasts to dip a bit further into this underrated era.

This mix had many possibilities so I’m sure that I have a few goodies missing but well, look how long this got already. For more, you can check out my RYM list.

Track listing

caught in the middle + ace reject – SUGABABES / get over you – SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR / nic o mnie nie wiecie + leniviec – RENI JUSIS / maybe – EMMA BUNTON / betcha neva – CHERIE / can’t speak french + it’s magic – GIRLS ALOUD / good boys – BLONDIE / wild – NAMIE AMURO / ride a white horse – GOLDFRAPP / look on the floor (hypnotic tango) – BANANARAMA / heart beat rock – KYLIE / romeo – BASEMENT JAXX / cry for you – SEPTEMBER / experimenting with rugs + left too late – FLORRIE / off and on + let me know – ROISIN MURPHY / funny how – RACHEL STEVENS / do you believe me now? + come and get it – DANNII MINOGUE / will you remember me tomorrow? – MARGARET BERGER / serious – GWEN STEFANI / girl like you – BERTINE ZETLITZ / say it right – NELLY FURTADO / love don’t live here – LADYHAWKE

Playlist

Blood-Stained Roses: Siouxsie Beyond The Singles

Listen Here

Basically an update/expansion on the Siouxsie ‘intro playlist’ I kept reposting here.

So maybe you know ‘Happy House’ or ‘Spellbound’ or another early Banshees hit? That’s great but on ‘Siouxsie Day’, I feel the push to promote a deeper look. Iconic as the big singles were, I feel that this is the tip of the iceberg.

This is a collection for the curious listener who wants to know more about Siouxsie’s more adventurous tastes and gradual evolution throughout her many many projects. After all, we’re talking about 16 albums in all. Sticking to only two or three ‘sides’ of such a prolific figure doesn’t do her justice. As powerful and crucial as the Juju era was, think of the constant misconceptions it inspired. Even Siouxsie would reiterate in interviews; not only was attaining a hit single not a priority, but that b-sides contained the Banshees’ most creative work. (For instance, the proto-trip hop ’Tattoo’.)

From the jazzy mallets of ‘Weathercade’ to Hyaena’s elegant flourishes, to the spacey trip-hop of Anima Animus and her haunting Hannibal finale theme, I hope for this to show new facets to Siouxsie’s music that you might have missed. Title comes from John McGeoch’s summary for the specific musical tension that SATB aimed to create.

(Combining the Once and Twice Upon A Time single collections does make a good intro if you want something more immediate, but note that Twice includes neither single from The Rapture. I do throw in some fantastic non-album singles since they didn’t get the same attention.)

Part 1: The first eight years
Staircase Mystery (Stand-alone single)
Mirage (The Scream)
Placebo Effect (Join Hands)
Desert Kisses (Kaleidoscope)
Into The Light (Juju)
Mad Eyed Screamer (The Creatures – Wild Things EP)
Fireworks (Stand-alone single)
Obsession (A Kiss In The Dreamhouse)
Morning Dawning (The Creatures – Feast)
Weathercade (The Creatures – ‘Right Now’ b-side)
Pulled To Bits (Nocturne live version)
Tattoo (‘Dear Prudence’ B-side)
Overground (The Thorn orchestral version)
Belladonna (Hyaena)
The Sweetest Chill (Tinderbox)

Part 2: Late 80’s to 2015
Song From The Edge Of The World (Stand-alone single)
Hall Of Mirrors (Through The Looking Glass)
Sleepwalking (‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ B-side)
Scarecrow (Peepshow)
Manchild (The Creatures – Boomerang)
Little Sister (Superstition)
Face To Face (Batman Returns soundtrack)
Sick Child (The Rapture)
Pinned Down (The Creatures – Eraser Cut EP)
Another Planet (The Creatures – Anima Animus)
All She Could Ask For (The Creatures – U.S. Retrace EP)
Further Nearer (The Creatures – HAI!)
Cish Cash w/ Basement Jaxx
Sea Of Tranquility (Mantaray solo debut)
Love Crime (Hannibal soundtrack)

Mix · My music · On other sites · update

May 12th, 2 PM Pacific on CAMP radio: a companion mix to my upcoming ‘Seahorses’ album

While this ‘archive album’ is suffering the worst case of delay since my 8-bit album last year, I’m still set on getting it out there this month, hopefully before it enters the ‘late’ period. To coincide, I decided to guest on Vulpiano’s monthly mix series for the listen.camp online radio station with a dip into the sounds and styles that inspired the album. I always felt that electronic music and easy listening shared this understated knack for aquatic or underwater themes, so this was a novel concept to revisit.

That means lots of ‘underwater’/surreal production effects, synths that go drip-drop, library obscurities themed around marine life, steel drums and a handful of surprises. For instance: the latest Bebel Gilberto album, which sounds eerily close to mall-themed vaporwave, and one of the most underrated Siouxsie singles in “Swimming Horses” (just because). Plus, of course, two tracks from Seahorses itself. Those are latest single “Fish In Oceania” and “Blue Whale” (which I lift from the download-only version of Ocean Flower; it actually originates from the Seahorses project).

The mix will go up on CAMP’s Mixcloud in the following days. You’ll find ‘similar wavelengths’ on my old Curios From The Background series and the Neptune mix.

Seahorses working track list:

  1. Fish In Oceania – 2:00
  2. Floating By – 2:19
  3. Dorsal Fin – 2:21
  4. Manatee – 2:11
  5. In Our Submarine – 2:16
  6. A Wandering School – 2:03
  7. Mouthbrooder – 2:12
  8. Jellyfish – 2:03
  9. Sand Dollar – 2:37
  10. Blue Whale – 2:54

Download-only tracks:

Deep Trenches demo (0:45), Seahorses (2:15), Lullaby For Sad Porpoise (2:26)

Other updates:

  1. As for the ‘piece’ I mentioned working on with the Mouthbrooder post, that found it’s way to a rough and complex state. I’m not so sure what to do with it right now and sadly, posting it in some form here feels more doubtful than before.
  2. In this next month or so, I’d love to get back to more regular posts, since my extreme focus on That Piece led to delay for many ideas. Still, I think I have enough to juggle for May considering my plans for a special occasion in it’s last week. It’s nothing too big or fancy, but it’s a day I posted about on most previous years here!
  3. I’m in plans of the next ‘traditional MAM mix’, but it’s not happening until sometime in summer. It can say it has some things in common with the previous one..
  4. New RYM lists: [bitter]sweet / loving / emotional synthpop, Beautiful Robots Dancing Alone: existential trance, Lyrics I find interesting / relatable
  5. No plans for front page reviews at RYM right now. I have more important stuff on my plate; I did a lot already and the Dax Pierson review got a frustrating enough response to remind me why I ‘retired’ from it.
  6. The new album from the very 80s, very YMO-ish J-pop group Crystal is ridiculously fun and also beautiful, please listen to it.
Mix

Just Breathe: a deep dive back into 2000s chillout music

Listen here

Warm up from your self-isolation and winter cold with a flashback to one of the most evocative sounds in pop and electronic music; from the haunting, therapeutic classic ‘Breathe’ to mesmerizing lost gems like Gaelle’s ‘Rain’. The sound of skyscrapers blurring together into endless bokeh lights; all the wooshing synths, e-pianos and warm basslines you could want. Originally a list on RYM.

‘DISC 1’

white flag – dido / halo – kate havnevik / let go – frou frou (imogen heap w/ guy sigsworth) / o papierkach – nosowska / midnight lounge + love hangover – jody watley / loving you – lemongrass / rain – gaelle / ho humm – moloko / take control – t-love / sublime – supreme beings of leisure / everybody changes underwater – dannii minogue / juz za kilka lat – iza lach

‘DISC 2’

slow down – morcheeba / you won’t forget about me (lounge mix) – dannii minogue / metro (from nancy drew: danger by design) – kevin manthei / a day in the park – ryuichi sakamoto / volunteer – grace jones / memory without consequence – takahashi & jansen / me odio cuando miento – fangoria / breathe – télépopmusik / fragile – kylie minogue / dizzy – siouxsie and the banshees / black cherry – goldfrapp / say – the creatures / goldfish – siobhan donaghy / conversation’s over – sugababes / have you never ever – margaret berger

Further Listening:
– My own Curios From The Background mixes, particularly #4 and #5
– The Hedkandi Winter Chill compilations
– Mono’s “Life In Mono”
– Margaret Berger’s “Mind Game” and “Naive (16)”
– Moloko’s “Day For Night”
– Royksopp with Anneli Drecker – “Sparks” and “You Don’t Have A Clue”
– Royksopp’s “Forsaken Cowboy”


2021 favorites · new music

Dax Pierson’s Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction), Ratskin / Dark Entries

techno / IDM / space music


More like this – Lukid’s Lonely At The Top (2012), Laurel Halo’s Chance Of Rain (2013)

When adding more 808s and the same 2-3 vocal riffs to old genres seems to pass for ‘the future’ in these past few years, it’s reassuring to hear something this hard to box. While his Dax’s mechanical, syncopated beats have plenty in common with techno and IDM, his background goes all over the place; from musique concrete to post-rock. He tweets: ‘It’s as if folks can browse my record collection through my music.’

His grainy, swamp-like textures have enough going on to reward close listens, but what double-sold me was the way each song transforms at such a fast rate. “I Slay The Pain” for instance. It adds several new ideas during any given minute, from a glitching piano to mutating drums to Dax’s own voice. In the end though, it has a coherent mood and every transition makes sense. These songs feel [i]alive[/i]. They work as a journey as much as they do as songs, with his beats bursting in all directions like we’re zooming on ships through his own future world. It mirrors the familiar cyberpunk dystopia but without that done-to-death synthwave slant.

My other favorite songs and moments:

  • The steely, mysterious synth pulses of “For The Angels”, resembling a more surreal take on space music. A fast-paced but careful build-up that hypnotizes me without making me wait whole minutes for single elements to pop up. Laurel Halo fans rejoice.
  • That mountainous, resonant crumble that kicks off “Catch”, reminding me fondly of Fever Ray. Like the rest, it invites my curiosity as much as it intimidates me. This cave has alien beasts lurking in it.
  • The way these hectic rhythms halt for the ghostly synth-organ and despairing guitar fuzz of ‘For 2 24’. The result sounds like an android’s-lament, equal parts creepy and mournful.
  • The menacing alien atmosphere that opens the ambient/drone track ‘NTHNG FKS U HRDR THN TM’.

Considering Dax’s struggles with quadriplegia along with ‘an almost constant schedule of dialysis, hospitalizations, surgeries, and recovery periods where he cannot produce, ‘ the sheer dedication he shows to his art blows my mind. If you like your e-music mechanical, exciting and/or distinctive, don’t miss this.

My music · update

‘Fish In Oceania’: 2nd single for my upcoming Seahorses album

See my previous post for first single “Mouthbrooder” and what I’ve been doing this year.

Seahorses is a downtempo/’aqua-lounge’ project originating from way back in 2016; I was inspired by Spencer Nilsen’s Ecco The Dolphin music, the space age of the 50s-60s and ocean-themed library music from the 70s.

Tentative track names & sequence for Seahorses

  1. Fish In Oceania
  2. Floating By
  3. Manatee
  4. In Our Submarine
  5. Jellyfish
  6. Dorsal Fin
  7. Mouthbrooder
  8. A Wandering School
  9. Sand Dollar
  10. Blue Whale

‘B-sides’ “Lullaby For Sad Porpoise” and “Seahorses” will be exclusive to the download.

My music · On other sites · update

New single: ‘Mouthbrooder’ for upcoming ‘Seahorses’ album

Bandcamp

This two-song single is a taster for Seahorses, an upcoming 10-track downtempo/’aqua-lounge’ album I ‘fished out’ from my archive; it goes way back to July of 2016! I decided it had too much potential to leave behind and it gives more context behind my obsession with aquatic sounds and imagery. I’m ~hoping~ to release it sometime during March 2021.

‘Mouthbrooder’ will appear on the album, with b-side ‘Seahorses’ as a bonus track hence ‘hidden title theme’.

~

Also, long time no see. I’m aware that this is the longest pause between posts in awhile so I guess this is the time I let the 3-5 total people who read this blog know what’s up. On the one hand it’s the typical ‘life happens’; I wasn’t in a good place through most of 2020 for both obvious and personal reasons, and now I’m struggling a bit to get it together. On the other, that led to my many bubbling project ideas, over-ambitious as ever, to delay A LOT. One project in particular? It’s taking me SIX on-and-off months and counting. Ughhh.

In the meantime:

  • I did get around to uploading sample songs for 80% of my music projects to my otherwise desolate YouTube account! I’m hoping that some people digging around for music will find me there, but I’d appreciate if you subscribed! Especially when WordPress has this annoyingly closed-off ‘only members can follow’ system. You can find the full Spires EP there too, since that wound up the second MOST popular Vulpiano release on Rateyourmusic. It’s too bad I keep getting this feeling that I can’t get back on that level, in both ease of making the music and quality..
  • I stepped away from my ‘RYM front-page-review retirement’ to praise my mutual ~simoon’s new synthpop project, Bride. It’s a definite ‘lost entry’ in my 2020 list and she could use more attention, so give her a listen if you enjoy things like Pink Industry, Geneva Jacuzzi and space-age synth music.
  • Another RYM thing: I made a top 5 ‘best songs’ for my own music in hopes of giving viewers a more accessible intro to my discography. Yknow, now that it’s this weird cross between ‘archive’ and ‘all-new’ songs.
  • Other recent RYM lists: Mermaid Music, honey-like vocals and the best of 2000s chill-out!
2020 favorites · Playlist · Year-end

Favorite songs of 2020

Listen on YouTube

Yes, this is ridiculously overdue, but thanks to the extra pressure of a new year and a long-delayed piece I haven’t found the time to put this together for real until now. Consider this an update on the previous 2020 playlist; like that one, I sequenced it to flow in a way that (mostly) makes sense. See the track listing at the link or the ‘full’ version at RYM (a few songs weren’t on YouTube). From chillwave that reaches to the sky (Brothertiger) to siren-like ambient organs (Ichiko Aoba) and metallophones from the Phillippines (Pantayo), this should have something for everyone.

2020 favorites · List

Top 20 albums of 2020 (+ EPs and more)

From one poptimist favorite to the next, to a (great!) Fiona Apple song and a promising ‘new new age’ artist, my biggest issue with 2020 was vocal riffs. The same 4-5 riffs that 2014-2019 kept spamming WOULD NOT GO AWAY. I swear! From the impressive amount of good albums I ~struggled to condense~ into twenty for this list, not enough avoid this problem. Yes, I’m talking about the stuff I liked here. This sheer abundance kept me from embracing albums I so wanted to embrace, like Sawayama. If it weren’t for this, Rina would find her way ~somewhere~ here.

So, I hold most albums here in a close tier. I’m sorting everything but my top two without an order. I decided it was too hard to give them a real order anyway, so I took note from Bandcamp Daily. A lot surprised me with their consistency and a charming, admirable sound, sometimes a great vocalist. Other times it was impressive sound design. We got some wonderfully sincere tributes to misunderstood niches like sophisti-pop and many great falsettos/high registers. This felt like a good year for concise projects that don’t over-stretch themselves (Tennis, Riki, TOPS, Better Person).

I mentioned on last year’s list that I hoped for big changes to current trends given how redundant things got in the late 10’s. Well, in short: nothing changed this year as far as I could tell. Given the vocal issue, I could say this redundancy got worse. In fact, this made me need a certain mood to listen to anything new, so it’s surprising how much I listened to during the year. Let’s see here:

  • Many pop singers who deserve more imaginative writing (Kylie)
  • so much 2000s nostalgia boiling down to Y2K and emo/Hot Topic when we have much more options
  • Obvious synth samples wound up lower on my list but it’s not gone
  • The ‘new new age’ looked so set to blossom this year but I guess not enough people were up to allow that.
  • Thus I wish the less obvious retro music could get more spotlight. (Jessie Ware can stay.)

I could go on here but this is a long intro already. As a result, you might tell from my selections that I stuck to my more ‘dependable’ niches here. Still, 2020 gave me enough good tunes to gorge myself in for a few hours, which is nothing to underestimate. Hopefully, I have plenty more great stuff to discover from here.

~ The Top 20 ~

TOPS: I Feel Alive Album Review | Pitchfork

TOPS – I Feel Alive.

indie pop / soft rock

Listen to “Colder & Closer”

Jane Penny’s vocals are sublime as usual, somewhere between a mermaid illustration and syrup on pancakes. (Probably from foggy memories of a diner in the 70s, where they were playing Fleetwood Mac.) See, this is why I like this ‘indie Fleetwood’ business, they’re unleashing the ‘from another room’ energy in that stuff.

House for Sale

It’s Immaterial – House For Sale.

sophisti-pop / downtempo

Listen to “Just North of Here”

Cult 80s sophisti-pop band re-appears from nowhere to polish up the lost sequel to the beloved (if hard to find) Song. The results are a treat if you’re familiar with them or other ‘indie sophisti’ bands. You get the same wistful, big-city ambience and deep hypnotic basslines as before. Plus, the more recent completion means they adapt their classic sound with the warmth of today’s production without losing their personality.

Brothertiger – Paradise Lost.

synthpop / chillwave / downtempo

Listen to “Shelter Cove”

Brothertiger rides his synths like a tidal wave. I wouldn’t say he Sounds Like Tears For Fears, but the fact he re-created Songs From The Big Chair says a lot about his bold and immersive approach.

If regular chillwave is well, ‘chilling’ at a beach, Brothertiger’s music represents the ocean itself in it’s full expanse. Really, anyone who loves an oceanic flavor to their synthpop should give his albums a whirl. His sound gets more and more decadent as he goes, which is a shame when I remember how much he winds up lumped into a ‘dead’ trend. Besides, I would argue that he’s the closest thing to George Clanton, everyone’s favorite exception to their Great Banishing of Chillwave.

On the downside, Paradise suffers a bit from those rehashy 2020 vocal lines, which forces me to recommend the first half over the second. The good that’s there though! I can’t ignore it. If Brothertiger can diversify his melodies next time, I see him reaching a new peak.

Drop Shadow | Eyeliner | Orange Milk Records

Eyeliner – Drop Shadow.

synthpop / new age

Listen to “Drop Shadow II”

Luke Rowell continues to flesh out his late-80s MIDI wonderland, this time a tad bittersweet thanks to personal events. As I expected, the results are adorable, somewhere between a lonely night in a stylized NYC and a Wii learning how to feel sadness. I love how much he recognizes that this music can create genuine emotion even when most ‘cool’ music buffs dismiss it as worthless kitsch.

As an Eyeliner fanatic I can’t help but want a tighter flow for this, but Rowell’s research into this music ensures plenty of the same colorful sound design and unique references. To name a few: music boxes, Emerald Web but shinier; those glittery bells from Desperately Seeking Susan (!!!).

Ambar Lucid: Garden of Lucid Album Review | Pitchfork

Ambar Lucid – Garden of Lucid.

singer songwriter / neo soul / folk / art pop

Listen to “Universe”

The ‘garden’ in the title is a good sign. From organic folk to murky synthesizers and chamber-like flourishes (“Questioning My Mind”), Ambar’s fusions come together in the most natural way. That goes without mentioning the immense talent she shows at 19. It’s impressive enough that she plays most instruments here, but her voice is the show-stopper without a doubt. Whether it’s a fragile guitar ballad or a giant chorus, she throws herself into it. More often than not, she flexes to both extremes in the same song without sounding the least bit awkward. It’s almost intimidating to consider how she’ll keep growing from here. Keep your ears out!

Buscabulla: Regresa Album Review | Pitchfork

Buscabulla – Buscabulla.

synthpop

Listen to “Te Que Tiambala”

Eclectic Latin American influences and synthpop melt together like a dreamy gradient. Just the thing I love to hear in summer, and that goes without mentioning some luxurious high-pitch vocals.

Regresa was recorded in its entirety in Raquel and Luis Alfredo’s home studio in Puerto Rico, and is an emotional roller coaster in which they face and ponder the issues affecting them and Puerto Rican society at large: the frustration at the lack of opportunities for locals while tax breaks lure rich investors, self-doubt and anxiety, even the rise of religious fanaticism. Full of angst and an underlying sense of loss, Regresa — which means “return” or “to come back” — is a bittersweet, introspective, eye-opening journey.‘ – Bandcamp page

Riki | Riki

Riki – Riki.

synthpop / darkwave

Listen to “Böse Lügen”

Riki’s music exists somewhere between a mischievous 80s nightclub and a medieval dungeon. Some of these choruses get so big that I feel like I’m standing at said castle’s highest tower (“Know”). On the other hand, these songs are instant head-nodders thanks to a punchy rhythm section; if you like your synthpop with some extra pulse, this is for you.

Agnes Obel: Myopia Album Review | Pitchfork

Agnes Obel – Myopia.

chamber pop

Listen to “Broken Sleep”

My favorite kind of chamber pop; piano echoing into a distant mist-covered castle, warm shadowy strings lurking behind a distinctive voice; a lonely, genuine sense of mourning. Bonus points for some interesting voice manipulation; on “Island of Doom”, they manage to tap into that ‘chipmunk/monster’ spectrum without sounding like a joke.

Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs | Klô Pelgag

Klô Pelgag – Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs.

baroque pop / art pop

Listen to “J’aurai les cheveux longs”

If Klô is a chanteuse having bad dreams, her backing is a hexed gothic castle. While this album has the most gorgeous orchestration I’ve heard this year, “Manemeur” manages to combine spaced-out krautrock synths with some kind of nightmarish operatic harmonizing. Klo is taking more than one step into the void here, but she does so with actual concern in her voice. In a way, Notre-Dame feels like the spiritual successor to last year’s amazing La Feline album.

Windswept Adan | Ichiko Aoba

Ichiko Aoba – Windswept Adan.

chamber folk

Listen to “Prologue”

The “Prologue” to this is some god-tier siren song that someone should use to open their nautical art film this instant. Right away I pictured someone drifting by in the ocean, totally lost and half-asleep. They see a lighthouse in the distance, someone manages to rescue them and the whole thing feels unreal.

Everything calms down after this, so I hope that Aoba can downplay the guitar-plucking to go full mermaid in the future. As it stands though? This is an evocative, incredibly gentle folk album with that exact magic-unraveling subtlety that grows on me as I listen. I feel like I’m sleep-swimming in a fantasy world, which makes for instant me-bait. The atmospheric interludes help.

GILBERTO, BEBEL - Agora - Amazon.com Music

Bebel Gilberto – Agora.

bossa nova / MPB / lounge

Listen to “Bolero”

Color me shocked if Bebel and Co. weren’t taking note from current retro lo-fi culture here. With the way they produced these songs, everything but Bebel’s voice seems to reside in an aquarium underneath a shopping mall from the past. With a song like “Bolero” it doesn’t stop at sweet and zen-inducingly elegant like with Tanto Tempo. Everything has a glaze over it, everything feels like a weightless lucid dream. Finally, I can enjoy a more metaphysical take on lounge music without wading through sloppy glitches that ruin the pace. (Looking at you, vapor bros.)

Given that the vintage MPB from Bebel’s father helped invent lounge, making such a fusion was a no-brainer. To be honest, I see this as a way for lounge to keep up with modern tastes. I see so many possibilities here. If you have any interest in easy listening, Brazilian pop and/or this whole ‘from another room’ business, give this a chance.

Tennis: Swimmer Album Review | Pitchfork

Tennis – Swimmer.

soft rock / indie pop

Listen to “Echoes”

With singer Alaina’s high-pitch, butter-on-bread style and that idyllic seaside accent in the production, I can’t not enjoy this. At 31 minutes, this album sways it’s way by like a quick but peaceful breeze. Like TOPS, Tennis have a great ear for bringing that daydreaming, wistful aftertaste out of the Fleetwood vibe too (see “Late Night”).

Stella - The Break - CD – Rough Trade

Σtella – The Break.

synthpop / neo-psychedelia

Listen to “Cherry”

Warm folksy voice out of a storybook meets molten synthpop; like an island where odd but lovable creatures roam around in secret. RIYL italo disco, minimal synth and (maybe) Melody’s Echo Chamber.

María José Llergo - Sanación | Críticas Discos | El Quinto Beatle

Maria Jose Llergo – Senacion.

flamenco nuevo

Listen to “El Hombre De Las Mi Lunas”

Annie - Dark Hearts Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

Annie – Dark Hearts.

synthpop / italo disco / synthwave

Listen to “In Heaven”

I expected much more hype for Annie’s first album in 11 years; is she not a cult favorite? Not to mention, this may be her most coherent project yet. Mixing her soft falsetto with this deep, moody lake of reverb leads to what I would call ’synthwave on the moon, at the end of the world’.

Unlike too much synthwave though, I can tell these songs apart! You get sweet italo-disco love songs with a touch “You Take My Breath Away”, hints at Annie’s roots in the chillout era (“Stay Tomorrow”); murky, vaguely sinister slow burners (“Corridors”, “Mermaid Dreams”); even the occasional 4AD guitar (“In Heaven”). RIYL Röyksopp, Sally Shapiro, Twin Peaks, Italians Do It Better.

Disco estimulante by Hello Seahorse! (Album, Synthpop): Reviews, Ratings,  Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music

Hello Seahorse! – Disco estimulante.

synthpop

Listen to “Sublime”

Denise Gutiérrez has a refined yet powerful voice that continues to make this band stand out. Synthpop is my closest match here, but not the kind for those eighties dancing GIFs. This has me picturing a metaphysical, slo-mo dance sequence; a cocktail party deep in the night.

Græ - Wikipedia

Moses Sumney – grae.

art pop / psychedelic soul / electronic

Listen to “Conveyer”

I love how hard it is to classify Moses. grae is groovy and delirious one minute and an eerie slow-burner the next. Bizarre vocal glitching (“Conveyer”) a wall of eccentric falsettos over synthesizer (“Bystanders”), boisterous orchestration (“Virile”); I could go on. Even in Grae’s slower moments, the way he goes all over the place with his instrumentation ensures that every track has ~something~ creative to offer.

Like Kelsey Lu, Moses seems the type to get the ‘art pop’ category because nothing else is loose enough. When so many ‘fresh’ critic darlings blend together with the way they rehash melodies this year, I appreciate that. I can’t describe this well beyond that; it’s a ‘just listen to it’ situation.

Sign Libra: Sea to Sea Album Review | Pitchfork

Sign Libra – Sea To Sea.

electronic new age

Listen to “Sea of Waves”

’Computer. Play Enya.’ This is straight-up mermaid music on Vangelis’ digital synths if you polished them with some gorgeously clear reverb. More at my review for Sonemic’s front page.

Something to Lose | Better Person

2: Better Person – Something To Lose.

sophisti-pop

Listen to “Close To You”

This is the way to bring sophisti-pop back! You apply it’s gift for wistful nostalgia to your own ~genuine~ sentiments, you study the original sounds and production and you use the modern obsession with hauntology to give it that extra-dreamy shimmer. This isn’t just that cool breeze I felt with the songs on my Sophisti-Pop Stroll mix, I’m melting in it somehow. Heart-throb music from heaven?

Roundtable: A Review of Fiona Apple's 'Fetch the Bolt Cutters' - Atwood  Magazine

1: Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters.

singer songwriter / art pop

Listen to “Heavy Balloon”

Yyyeah you know about this one already. Fiona is the type I admired more for her lyrics and iconography than actual sound, so I’m happy to enjoy this so much. I’ll credit that to the thrilling percussion sections, the sass in her voice and some eye-opening lyrics. I think a lot about the way she described the title. Also: the way the real Shameika met up with her again to collaborate!

EPs

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