This new track from Toledo caught our ear with its super laidback vibe – all jangly guitars, backbeat drums and hazy falsetto vocal. It reminded us of a cross between Kurt Vile and Sydney’s CJ Stranger but on a much more mellow tip. Folky indie guitar dream pop.
Toledo is the project of Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz from Brooklyn, NY and this track comes from their new six song EP Jockeys Of Love, co-produced and mixed by Jorge Elbrecht (Wild Nothing, Ariel Pink, Frankie Rose)and out now via Bandcamp (digital and red 12″ vinyl) and streaming services.
Damien Binder is back with his new single ‘Here It Is’, the first taste of his forthcoming fifth solo album. New Zealand readers will be familiar with the trajectory of his career which began as the frontman for Auckland post-punk band Second Child from the late 80s and through the 90s. Damien’s now based in Perth and has teamed up with producer Matt Gio for this first single that beautifully marries his moody alt-rock roots with a melancholic yet uplifting indie pop/rock feel.
The song is Binder’s first release since his 2016 album A New World, which garnered strong critical praise, is the first single from his fifth solo album currently in production with producer Matt Gio (Katy Steele, Birds of Tokyo, Abbey May, Rudimental), due for release later in 2021.
Of the new track and forthcoming record, Damien explains that “I wanted to try and break away from my usual choices and reimagine the songs. I had heard some of Matt’s work including one of my fave’s – Katy Steele’s ‘Human’, and knew together we could find a new context for the songs, plus he really liked them which helps!”
‘Here It Is’ marks a distinct departure in Binder’s sound while still retaining the core elements of his distinctive songwriting style. It’s a multi-faceted example of the way his craft has evolved over the years.
At its core, the strength of Damien’s emotive and nuanced songwriting resonates strongly via the song’s universal themes and the way he seamlessly conveys both melancholy and optimism. Reflecting on the writing of ‘Here It Is’, Damien describes it as “a kind of meditation on appreciating the moment, gratitude and impermanence.”
On the surface the track sparkles and swerves with an indie pop production and sonic aesthetic courtesy of keyboards, digitally enhanced drums and acoustic guitar. You can also hear the distant and formative strains of Damien’s early musical years, in New Zealand band Second Child, via his ability to blend melody through the ever-shifting dynamics of the song.
‘Trick of The Light’, the second of his studio collaborations with multi ARIA and APRA award-winning Australian songwriter Josh Pyke, also sees Estepa working again with director Nicholas Banicevic (assisted by Martin Greguric) to create some swirling, psychedelic imagery to perfectly accompany the song.
Estepa has always had an undeniable ear for hooks. Combined with classic pop and rock arrangements, (like his heroes You Am I, The Beatles and Wilco) his songs always possess a timeless quality. He’s proved it over and over again across six acclaimed albums and live shows in Australia, Japan, the USA, UK, Spain, Sweden and the Philippines.
On ‘Trick of the Light’, Estepa combines heavenly melodies and a melancholic air on this irresistible slice of indie guitar pop, singing about acceptance, letting go and allowing yourself to feel whatever it is that comes out while you’re treading new waters.
As always with his songwriting, there are layered, poetic brushstrokes in the way Estepa blends and informs his songs with multiple meanings, as he explains. “I like the idea that the presence of light does not necessarily signal happiness or life but can also mean that emotions and perception can be blurred by its appearance.”
Sonically, there’s a beautiful weightlessness to the production and instrumentation that gracefully carries the song. Guitars sparkle and lightly jangle amid some sublime piano, backing vocals and percussive elements that add unique detailing to the melodic richness of the track. Alongside the studio smarts of Pyke, it amounts to yet another sublime example of classic contemporary songwriting from Estepa.
“Bryan’s sense of melody is really strong which informs everything in his songs. His lyrics are really authentic and heartfelt and for me that’s the key of a good song. From there it’s a matter of pushing the boundaries of what the arrangement and sonics can be, to tell those stories.” – Josh Pyke
Working with Josh Pyke, Estepa was impressed with the producer’s instinct and ability to enhance the inherent strengths of Estepa’s songs. “It’s exciting watching Josh work! You sense that his creative light is always on and he needs to get his ideas out quickly before it starts to flicker. He takes on what I think the song’s direction might be but adds a couple of detours that are normally right on the money.”
Pyke is quick to reciprocate the praise. “Bryan’s a great writer and collaborator. He’s got a classic pop sensibility but is really open to feedback and experimentation which made my job as producer really fun and free.”
“In the end, I just really want people to hum my tunes and connect with them in some way,” says Estepa enthusiastically.
We’ve always been partial to the music of The Notwist, the way they blend those beautiful sad-eyed vocal melodies with post-rock intricacy and krautrock rhythms. They exist in that sweet spot between song craft and experimental composition, always inventive and beguiling in their art-pop explorations.
‘Sans Soleil’ comes from the band’s first album in seven years, Vertigo Days, out January 29th on Morr Music.
Cosmic psych pop is the order of the day on this new track from Melbourne artist Wilding. He’s got a brand new album called The Death Of Foley’s Mall out now on Half A Cow Records and ‘Swipe Right‘ is one of a series of character-study songs Wilding wrote about people who live in his neighbourhood of Coburg, Victoria.
This single has a a brilliant build and momentum through it and guitar and synth layers that fold in and on top of the track. Fizzing melodies and an infectious thread run through the song, recalling British acts like Blur and Supergrass. There’s also a jerky undercurrent that brings to mind Talking Heads.
Synchronised guitar and vocal melodies are the winning tickets on this new track from Chateau Chateau out of Tucson, AZ. There’s an indie pop sound at play but with just enough melancholy and post-punk depth to the rhythm section to make it stand out above the plethora of other indie pop acts plying their trade in 2020.
This song in particular sounds like a cross between LCD Soundsystem and The National. A catchy song that never overplays its hand.
Chateau Chateau released their debut full-length album, Princess, independently on all streaming services July 31st, 2020.
Last month, Norwegian pop-wunderkind Boy Pablo released ‘Honey‘, the second single from his forthcoming new album Wachito Rico (out Oct 23rd).
The stylised video for ‘Honey’ continues the story of his romantic adventures with girlfriend Sofia who heads to Antwerp to continue horticulture studies, as well as his ongoing rivalry with arch-nemesis Nacho. The videos feature narration by Tiger King star Rick Kirkham.
He’s also just dropped the brand new single ‘Rest Up‘, yet another hyper-melodic ear worm of a track that sounds like the lovechild of Beck, Phoenix and Mac DeMarco.
Slark Moan is the clever twist of a name that Nashville musician Mark Sloan records his solo material under. Pre-pandemic he spent a bunch of the time on the road as a hired gun for acts such as Kelsey Waldon, Margo Price, Sam Outlaw, Erin Rae and more, but when he’s at home he creates his own musical universe – writing, playing, recording and producing his songs.
You can hear a cosmic country streak running through his music but the dominant sound is a lightly psychedelic melodic one with lush instrumentation adding to his melancholic musings. There’s mention of artists such as Harry Nilsson, early Todd Rundgren and Emmit Rhodes and you can definitely hear them in his sound.