Hugh – Look Back In Laughter

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London-based outfit Hugh make genre-bending, stripped-down and spellbinding trip-hop tapestries with textured synths and silky vocals. Consisting of Joshua Idehen (vocals), Izzy Brooks (vocals), Andy Highmore (production/keys) and Tino Kolarides (guitar), their latest single “Look Back In Laughter” is another one for the books with its self-aware lyrical sapience and musically apposite metered percussion. Idehen’s spoken word also steps into the limelight on this number. Look out for the track to be released on an upcoming compilation later this year.

Molly Burch – Downhearted

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Austin-based artist Molly Burch may be unknown at this point, but with a debut as strong as this, it’s hard to believe that that will be the case for long. After moving from Asheville to Austin, Burch found herself reflecting on past loves and past lives. The result was a 7″ single released this month on Captured Tracks, available for purchase via Omnian Music Group. The first of the two-track release, “Downhearted” clearly demonstrates Burch’s musical influences–which are grounded in old school country and blue-eyed soul. It’s a nod to stylistic predecessors such as Dusty Springfield, Patsy Cline and The Shirelles, as well as a heartwarming introduction to the young singer and purveyor of vintage, romantic pop. Hear the dreamy tune below.

DC LIVE: Jah Wobble / Nick Waterhouse / Preoccupations (FKA Viet Cong)

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On any given night of the week in the DMV, there are myriad options for live music, which is why we’ve started the segment DC LIVE to call out our picks.

To kick off this edition we have the English musician Jah Wobble, who will be playing Rock & Roll Hotel with his band The Invaders Of The Heart September 23. Drawing on influences of dub, jazz and world music, John Wardle aka Jah Wobble has had a long and storied career. Originally known as the bass player for Public Limited Ltd (PiL), he later went on to fashion his own solo career, releasing his new album Everything Is No Thing with The Invaders this August. If you enjoy a good rhythm and blues section, listen to the single “Cosmic Blueprint” and check out his show at Rock & Roll this week.

Continuing the theme of rhythm and soul, Nick Waterhouse also has a show coming up at Rock & Roll Hotel on October 12. The LA-based musician is releasing his third album Never Twice (via Innovative Leisure) on September 30, which showcases his signature pastiche of R&B-rooted sounds. Calling upon some of his favorite artists to contribute to the record–Waterhouse solicited Jazz musician Bob Kenmotsu’s on the flute, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello collaborator Ralph Carney on sax, and Dr. Lonnie Smith protégé Will Blades on organ–amongst others. Waterhouse also collaborated with Grammy-nominated artist Leon Bridges on the track “Katchi,” which you can hear below. For a night of doo wop and neo-soul swag, be sure to come out for the show.

And finally, the band formerly known Viet Cong, recently rechristened as Preoccupations will also be playing Rock & Roll Hotel this October 16 (killing it with the bookings much R&R?). Working with Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) on their new self-titled LP through Jagjaguwar, the post-punk Canadian group’s new album reflects their present state at the time of recording — one of flux within both their professional and personal lives. Listen below to the album’s opus, an amorphous 11-minute journey entitled “Memory” featuring Wolf Parade‘s Dan Boeckner on vocals.

THE COVERUP: Night Drive – Whole Lotta Love / Too Much Love

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Before you ride off into your weekend, we’ve got another installment of THE COVERUP today, a segment in which we feature a fresh take on a classic. Today’s cover comes courtesy of Night Drive, a new wave band based out of Texas who create modern, dark synthpop inspired by sci-fi cinematic landscapes. While they’re in the midst of working on their new album, they were inspired to do a reimagining of Led Zeppelin‘s “Whole Lotta Love,” coupled with LCD Soundsystem‘s “Too Much Love.” According to Night Drive, it’s “what you might expect if Jimmy Page and James Murphy had a child in a dystopian NYC landscape, circa 2025.” Listen below.

TRUE – Back In A Second

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We were first introduced to TRUE a couple years back, with the release of their second single “Colors Of My Estimation.” Now, the virtually un-googeable Swiss group is gearing up to release their debut record, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Consisting of Daniela Sarda (vocals) and Rico Baumann (production and drums), the future R&B duo make idiosyncratic electropop with fresh instrumentation and a touch of nostalgia.  Despite the digital blackout, the project has managed to position themselves for global success with only a single EP and handful of tracks, thanks to exposure from the likes of BBC 1 and MTV Europe.

Both seasoned jazz musicians, Dani and Rico’s music is full of unexpected twists and turns and meticulous nuance that feels effortless and instantly catchy. The LP, Wrapped In Air is due to drop September 23 on Mouthwatering Records. For a taste of their pop expertise, take a listen to the single “Back In A Second” — and earlier effort “It’s Not The Wind” for a sample of their softer throwback production.

Pional – The Way That You Like (ft. Empress Of)

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When Empress Of pops across your inbox, you perk up, which is exactly what happened when we saw that Pional had paired up with the Brooklyn siren for a collab. The reveal comes right as the Barcelona-based producer is prepping to release his new EP, When Love Hurts at the end of the month. Described as “a song about a toxic relationship,” the new track “The Way That You Like” is a riveting, sonically tense electronic tune sustained by rhythmic synths, dynamic drum beats, and of course the enchanting vocals of Lorely Rodriguez. Listen below.

When Love Hurts will be out on September 30 via Ninja Tune imprint Counter Records, and you can pre-order here.

Grapell – Every Time…

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Soulful Swedish group known as Grapell have a collection of love ballads on the horizon. The duo, comprised of longtime friends Emil Erstrand (vocals) and Nils Nygårdhs (drums) recorded their upcoming EP Love Chamber with a live band in their rehearsal space located in a laundry basement in Stockholm. To Grapell, a ‘love chamber’ represents a place of beauty, but also a place that one can get easily trapped. Each song on the EP is its own entity, and yet there’s a unifying thread throughout. Regarding the decision to create an EP rather than rushing to put out an album, Erstrand explains, “An EP is much easier to consume, and you want a theme to be cohesive.” The opening track for example, “Every Time” is a subdued, gossamery and reflective song, while “Some Places” is a more uptempo, glimmering sax-suffused duet with notable additions by Many Voices Speak (female vocals) and jazz saxophonist Björn Arkö.

Escape with both efforts below. Love Chambers will be out September 30 on Strangers Candy in Europe and Roll Call Records everywhere else.

DC LIVE: Sleigh Bells / Tigers Are Bad For Horses / Tamaryn

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On any given night of the week in the DMV, there are myriad options for live music, which is why we’ve started the segment DC Live to call out our picks.

To begin this installment, we have Brooklyn’s Sleigh Bells who will be playing U Street Music Hall September 7. On their forthcoming fourth studio album, Jessica Rabbit, the duo trade in their abrasive punk/pop sound for a more experimental, synthesized aesthetic with the help of producer Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Fiona Apple) and mixer Andrew Dawson (Kanye West, Tyler the Creator). For a sample of their so-called controlled chaos, listen to new single “Hyper Dark,” come out to the show and look for the release of their album November 11 on the band’s new label, Torn Clean.

Next on the lineup, we recommend checking out DC-based band Tigers Are Bad For Horses, who will be playing in support of Highasakite at DC9 this Thursday, September 8. The homegrown group, who we’ve featured before are an electronic/alt pop duo that blend jazz-influenced, multi-textured production with piano and melodic vocals. Hear their latest effort, “Embers” below. You best bet that CCP will be represented at this show, so come out and say hi.

Lastly, we urge you to get acquainted with Tamaryn, another NYC-based artist who makes dark rock, dance pop. Her recent record, Cranekiss released last year on Mexican Summer, serves as a “post-adolescent love letter” to their early musical influences. Stream the sensual, synth-laden single “Hands All Over Me” below. Currently on tour supporting Lush, you can find Tamaryn performing at 9:30 Club September 21.

Big Scary – Over Matter

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Melbourne’s Big Scary, comprised of Jo Syme and Tom Iansek, are releasing an ambitious third studio album, entitled Animal this Friday, September 2. Molded into four unique movements they’re calling the “4 Stages of the Animal” — Hunting, Lurking, Resting and Waking — these phases are meant to represent an evolution from dark to light, or evolution of man so to speak. While humans have the capacity to rise above our animal urges, our baser instincts are often in direct conflict with our higher-minded selves, creating a constant balancing act in the psyche.

As the duo stated in a press release: The extent to which we are all just animals with drives, urges and instincts was a question that particularly interested us. It is fascinating that we, as human beings capable of love, kindness, creativity and incredibly nuanced and complex thought are often in the same moment dealing with base drives, desires and hungers to be fed and satisfied; that we seemingly have a mind that is both a treasure and a torment; a mind that can equally throw up the twisted and perverted alongside the good and the Godly.

“Over Matter” is the aperture of the final chapter, which the band espouses as the emotional and spiritual heart of the album. Shaped through layered, oscillating synths, upbeat drums and a rising crescendo, the track is complemented by Iansek’s falsetto vocals and a gorgeous closing sax solo courtesy of collaborator Gus Rigby. “Lyrically it can be seen as descent into madness; life attacking from all angles; hysteria and confusion building to a simmering cacophony,” explains Big Scary. “There is also a surrender to all these things in the end, and the beginning of a transformation.”

Surrender yourself to the song and accompanying video for “Over Matter,” and be sure to scope the thought-provoking new LP in its entirety upon its release.

HUNTING – Oxygen, Organism, Double Darkness, Savior Add Vice

LURKING – Lone Bird, the Endless Story, Flutism, Up and Up and Up

RESTING – Breath Under Water, The Opposite of us, Heaven on Earth

WAKING – Over Matter, Lamina

Young Summer – Fallout

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Earlier this summer, Bobbie Allen aka Young Summer shared the first single (“Alright“) off her upcoming EP, and now the DC artist has revealed the third threnody from the record. The cut, called “Fallout” is another gorgeous pop ballad, with lush synth textures infused with Allen’s signature sensibility. There’s also a sublime interlude around 2:35 that is worth the listen alone. Considering that Aqualung — an acclaimed pop artist turned producer of the early aughts — co-penned some of the tracks, we’re not at all surprised that this EP is shaping up to be one of the best pop collections of the year.

Brace your ears for the “Fallout” below. And if you’re looking to catch Young Summer live, she’ll be playing at NYC’s Mercury Lounge August 31.