Meryem Aboulouafa offers an introduction to herself in the music video for her track “Ya Qalbi” alongside the release of her debut album. “Ya Qalbi” is a magical and stunning Algerian song from the Arab-Andalusian repertoire. With the help of producer Franceso Sanalucia, the addition of modern effect brings the track into the 21st century.
The video is moving art, simply put. The color schemes are lush, highlighting simple visuals layered behind footage of the artist singing in black and white. It packs maximum impact in a quick 2 minutes.
Her debut album excels in the ‘game of reference.’ Being able to track all influences of this album is almost impossible, as she has many. Parallels can be made of her limitless imagination to Kate Bush, her creation of intimacy and emotion to James Blake, and her ability to hypnotize the universal language of music without denying the musical traditions of her origins from Oum Kalsoum.
Husband and wife duo The Grahams delve into new territory for their third album, Kids Like Us, trading traditional Americana for neon-colored indie-rock experimentation.
“Fuck the genre labels people want to put on us. We never felt they fit us anyway.” These are the bold words of Alyssa Graham, who makes up ½ of the duo, the other half completed by her long-time romantic, life, and musical partner Doug Graham. Every release the two have had began with an adventure that expanded their musical horizons, and their third effort is no exception. “Perhaps we started writing this album with a sense of escapism,” says Alyssa. And that escapism is palpable within the record, with the two managing to actually capture that taste and inject it into their music.
Running the rivers of balmy and graceful dream pop, 50’s mod influenced garage-rock energy, 60’s and 70’s style groovy guitars, and an explosive Morricone-esque cinematic intrigue, the couple bravely explores new sounds, proving their versatility and personal creative freedom runs deep. “We wanted to just let go and explore, and it made all the difference,” says Doug Graham. “For the first time, there was no self-doubt, no self-loathing – just gratitude, bliss, and a complete sense of satisfaction in the process and the results.”
The Grahams took off on a motorcycle journey along Route 66 to garner inspiration, witnessing life frozen in time along the historic highway. The music that resulted contained moments of fantasy, horror, and even the supernatural, beguiling their experience into the album.
Kids Like Us was the final project of Richard Swift, producer and former member of The Shins before his death in 2018 and was then taken over by co-producer Dan Molad. Their influence helped to enable The Grahams to channel all of their chaotic stimulus into something big, lush, ambitious, and profoundly satisfying.
The album’s 11 tracks were born from motel-room whispers and roadside musings as well as studio experimentation. “We started in Chicago with the blues and Motown,” Doug says of their journey, “and we ended in L.A. listening to the Beach Boys. And all of it found its way into the record.”
“Don’t Give Your Heart Away” perfectly captures the feeling of cross-country cruising along a desolate highway. A twangy and peaceful pop number that both soothes and quietly thunders, it fills in a broad soundscape of wide open spaces with its chilling echoes. Alyssa glides over the dreamy notes in a quiet storm of hypnosis while the instrumentation behind her pulls listeners in with a siren call of the desert.
“Kids Like Us” is more concentrated. The number is painted with darker colors, echoing across a nighttime scene with brassy sounds and a heightened intensity brought to the table. There is urgency within the Grahams as they take a modernized Antonioni feel in new directions for this one.
“Searching The Milky Way” draws heavy influence from the 50s, with shiny keys and sickly sweet “shalalas” moon-lighting the way through the track, which drips starlight that tastes of a million years ago. It feels both cool-toned and warm and fuzzy, and is sure to transport listeners to another place in time.
The record was also influenced inevitably by the surreal 2016 election, with Kids Like Us evokes the modern American condition in remarkably empathetic ways. “We’ve definitely written a very political record,” Doug says. “These aren’t protest songs, but some of them are certainly a reaction to the big pile of shit America has stepped in, and our personal fear for the future”.
This melting pot of influences manages to blend together to make a deliciously flexible and versatile album. It never feels stagnant or stuck in one place, and pulls a lot of unexpectedly beautiful feelings from places both light and dark to create a shimmering piece of work. Freedom bleeds onto every track and colors each one in a different light within the same shadows, leaving behind a record that manages to be both eclectic and cohesive.
Kids Like Us is available everywhere on March 27th. Keep up with The Grahams here.
Alt group Charming Liars have followed up their recent success with the release of new track, ‘Blame”. Charming Liars’ journey began in the west-end London music scene, with guitarist Karnig Manoukian and bassist Mike Kruger writing and playing together in a series of bands in their teen years (these boys go way back) before moving to LA where they connected with vocalist Kiliyan Maguire to solidify the band’s lineup.
The group kept busy in 2019, releasing their debut album Thought, Flesh, and Bone, a follow up acoustic EP, Bare Bones, and (as if that wasn’t enough) a live collection called Live 2019. To top things off, Charming Liars also did a headline run on the West Coast, toured Europe with The Faim, did a U.S. run in support of Angels and Airwaves, and were on a UK and European tour with Palaye Royale before it got cut short due to COVID-19.
Of the song, the band says “Blame’ is an explosive anthem asking for one more shot at love from your last late night call. What happens when the lights fade and the drinks dry up? When your memory starts to dive deep into the wreckage of lovers past? Blame.”
Explosive indeed, the new track combines electrically-charged beats with Maguire’s effortlessly cool and stylish vocals, skyrocketing the tune into the alt-pop atmosphere. It’s an anthemic love song that begs for forgiveness and another shot, but the instrumentation and delivery softens the hard corners of the serious subject matter, keeping the track feeling light as a feather and full of hope.
“Blame” is out on all streaming platforms now and the cancelled European dates in support of Palaye Royale have now been rescheduled for August and September this year.
RESCHEDULED EUROPEAN TOUR W/ PALAYE ROYALE AUGUST
19th – Circolo Magnolia, Milan IT
24th –Technikum, Berlin DE
26th – Plaza, Zurich CH
27th – A38, Budapest HU
28th – Lucerna Music Bar, Prague CZ
31st – Razzmatazz, Barcelona ES
1st – Sala Cool, Madrid ES
3rd – Akakao, St. Petersburg RU
4th – The 1930, Moscow RU
6th – Bel Etage Event Club, Kiev UA
Swedish duo The Radio Dept. just released their latest track “You Fear the Wrong Thing Baby” on March 20th, perfectly showcasing their quintessential dream-pop style that we have all come to know and love. Edging on ethereal, the reverb in this track makes it feel like a glittering kaleidoscope soundscape before we even reach the words. The lyrics of this track, coincidentally enough, fit perfectly with the current global health crisis. “When we recorded the song we had no idea what was coming,” expresses the duo. “The text is against conservatism and a tribute to youth as a progressive force.”
Charlotta Perrier, under the alias Big Fox, returns with new single “Let Love In” off her sophomore album See How the Light Falls. Both were released the same day, and are ready for our listening pleasure.
When talking about her newest release, Perrier said, “I thought a lot about the unsaid. All the words that I constantly avoided, held back, and how they slowly created a wall between me and others … And I finally realized that I was the one stopping myself. So, I think I subconsciously wrote this song to push myself off that cliff, to let love in.”
“Let Love In” signifies that feeling of wanting to be more open with others and taking the steps to get there. Combining classic pop and melodic indie sounds, Perrier creates a sophisticated and mature sound.
Toronto-based artist Elrichman (also known as Paul Elrichman of Ducks Unlimited and Germaphobes) has just released his new single, “I Mostly Consume”, which is from his upcoming sophomore LP, Heaven’s Mayor. The record is the follow up to his 2014 effort, Young, Healthy and Wonderful, and is to be released this summer via Bobo Integral. It features a wealth of Toronto-based talent with Alex Gamble on production duties (Fucked Up, Alvvays) and contributions from Zach Bines (Weaves) and Jon Pappo (Hooded Fang) as well as the Boston-based Anh Phung (Twisted Pine).
Speaking of the track, Paul says: “‘I Mostly Consume’ is about feeling like you exist on this earth mostly to consume, which is the sense I have sometimes. The bridges set scenes of impending doom, but everything else is pretty cheery so I guess I’m a blissful consumer!”
The song is quite bright and poppy for a topic as serious as impending doom, and Elrichman juxtaposes serious topics (the album itself focuses on the notion that we only exist on this planet for the purpose of consuming) with upbeat 80s jangle-pop vibes. Elrichman explores a variety of tempos and strips back mid-tune for a thoughtful instrumental section comprised of piano and strings in the middle of the track before launching back into a high-energy second half for a strong finish.
“I Mostly Consume” is out now on all streaming platforms and Heaven’s Mayor is to be released in summer of 2020 via Bobo Integral followed by a string of North American tour dates.