Yumi Zouma – Keep It Close To Me

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Yumi Zouma released their first full length May 27,  which marks the first time the international group has recorded together in one room. Although the band members call different metropolises — Auckland, Paris and New York — their home, they’ve managed to produce two EP’s in the last few years from across the globe. It’s obvious on their debut, Yoncalla, however, that working together directly has helped the synthpop act to hone their unique music stylings and reconcile their overall sound.

Elaborating in a press release, guitarist Charlie Ryder said: “Yumi Zouma has always been an exercise in refining ideas and collaborating, but this was the first time we weren’t limited or protected by distance. With Yoncalla, the process was different, and it can be scary to present raw ideas to your friends — but it’s also incredible to see songs evolve through the sparks of inspiration that bounce between people in the same room.”

The breezy lead single “Keep It Close To Me” is probably the most accessible track the group has put out to date. Check it out below and if you’re in the DC area, be sure to catch them live at DC9 June 8 with support from Color Palette.

WEIRDO – BUTTER

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WEIRDO made their enigmatic debut on the internet a couple months ago with the delightfully weird track, “BUTTER.” The mysterious man behind the project is a British songwriter/producer based in Germany, who’s been involved in various other projects and as a result is choosing to remain below the fold for now. On the name choice, WEIRDO says, “I’ve always been weird, I’ve always been told I’m a strange one, and I think within my coming of age I’ve learnt to embrace it and project it with my art.” We’re for one glad he’s found an avenue for his singularity, as “BUTTER” is an ultra fresh sounding pop number — glowing with ’80s synths, playful vocals and even a xylophone solo.

Get down with this groove below and look out for a future WEIRDO EP.

Elohim – Sensations

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This is our first time covering LA artist Elohim, but she’s racked up quite a following with the few tracks that she’s released thus far. The new one, premiered yesterday on Complex is called “Sensations” and is the lead single off her forthcoming self-titled debut EP. The mysterious singer is a classically-trained pianist who prefers preservation of musical artistry to the merits of frivolous fame. Her new song “Sensations” is a synth-driven ode to love, sex, and vulnerability. Elohim explains, “That unbelievable uninhibited-can’t breathe-is this a dream-I love you moment, where nothing exists or matters but the person next to you. That’s what sensations is to me.”

Elohim’s EP is out May 20 via B3SCI Records — available for pre-order here.

L.A. Girlfriend – XIV

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Bred on new wave bands like New Order and Iron MaidenL.A. Girlfriend‘s music has come to reflect an ’80s counterculture sound in a genre best described as “romantic nouveau.” This is evidenced by the L.A. fuzz pop act’s new record, Neon Grey released earlier this month. Throughout the album, LAGF founder Sydney Banta plaits sharp synths, propulsive drum tracks and a traditional house beat into energetic, edgy lo-fi arrangements. Get acquainted with these newcomers by listening to album highlight “XIV” — and “Runner” (off their Varsity EP) below.

[CCP Interview]: Young Galaxy on Making Connections through Myspace, Being Influenced by Bowie, and Subverting Expectations of Live Shows

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Montreal-based synthpop act Young Galaxy have been busy the last decade, generating an impressive amount of work and creative output that has manifested in the form of five albums, including their latest, Falsework. Originally formed by Stephen Ramsay and his spouse Catherine McCandless, the group has since evolved into a four-piece that continues to push themselves artistically. Even with two kids now in the picture, the constraints of family life hasn’t stopped the group from moving full speed ahead.

The quartet has just set out on tour in support of the new album, which is sure to be a spectacular affair as the band enlisted the help of Adam Hummell — whose production credits include Madonna‘s Super Bowl Halftime performance and Miley Cyrus‘ Bangrz Tour — to help them design a music-triggered light show for the set. Their live show will also feature dancers from Montreal’s Street Parade, all in an attempt to challenge people’s expectations of small club shows — which we for one can’t wait to witness at their Black Cat show tonight in DC.

In advance of the show, we spoke with Stephen about his time touring with Stars, Catherine overcoming stage fright, meeting their producer Dan Lissvik through Myspace, being influenced by unconventional acts like David Bowie, and of course their adorable, record-loving children.

Where to begin…you have a breadth of work and we’re loving the new album, Falsework. For new, prospective listeners though, could you tell the story of how you got started, and where your name comes from?

The origin of the name is cringeworthy. It was my (Stephen’s) first hotmail account name. I randomly opened an astronomy book to a page and put my finger down… that was the phrase I hit.

The story started in Vancouver with me in University and working a day job, writing and recording late into the night. I was recording demos — one of the great offshoots of having a computer for school was that I could also record music on it, and this was in the early days of being able to simulate a full band…it definitely allowed me the ability to flesh out my ideas a lot more than previously. I wanted Catherine to sing but she was too shy to even sing with me in the room, which is why I feature more heavily as the lead singer in the early recordings. Anyway, I had just befriended Torquil from Stars, who I played the demos to. On the strength of them, he offered me a job as the touring member of his band as long as we moved to Montreal. Once we had done that, I toured with Stars for a year and a half, and got to know their label, Arts & Crafts. In my downtime between tours, Catherine and I began recording with Jace and Olga from The Besnard Lakes at their studio, Breakglass. Catherine began to warm up to the idea of singing in public more at this point, thanks in large part to the friendship we had with Jace and Olga who were wonderful to record with. Once we had about five songs recorded, we played them for Arts & Crafts and they agreed to sign us before we’d even played a show. It all happened rather quickly and fortuitously — we were in the right place at the right time.Where did you draw your inspiration for the new album?

We felt it was a logical continuation of the previous two with Dan Lissvik, an end to a trilogy as it were. I was listening to a lot of minimal dance and electronic music — and given our mandate of making the songs more sparse and energized over the previous albums with Dan, we tried to stay that course with Falsework. I had also come into a windfall of analog synths quite by accident, so my entire workflow changed with this new gear. It became way more process based, more about patterns and arrangements and rhythms than ever. The beauty of analog electronic gear is it’s very quirky and has real personality. The challenge is to harness that personality using your personal sensibilities. It’s harder than it seems…so as a result we were very in the moment — we let the machines shape the overall sound of the record.

How do you think your sound has evolved over the years?

We started in a much more traditional rock formation — in retrospect I think we were working out our early influences, or our original idea of what kind of band we wanted to be in when we first started dreaming of being in bands…I think I imagined it should be like a gang — a lot of my favourite bands growing up were that way, like The Stone Roses, The Verve, The Happy Mondays…but over time I realized we’d never really be that way, that by virtue of the band being centered around a couple it would be very different. With Catherine involved, we realized our band would always have a very feminine energy at the heart of it. Our influences eventually gravitated away from those more male, rock-oriented models to more androgynous, less conventional ones… acts like Bowie, The Knife, New Order — they all challenged preconceptions of whom bands should be comprised of — they flipped stereotypes back on themselves. So it stands to reason that as the band’s personality shifted, so too did its sound and its influences.

What is your writing process like, and how did you first become connected with producer Dan Lissvik?

As I mentioned, it’s very process based now. It started with me more or less just being emo with a guitar into a 4-track recorder… I haven’t written a song on a guitar in years now, it seems. It’s changed a lot, it’s a bank of synths and drum machines talking to each other these days. If I want to go acoustic, then I start with drums or bass. Rarely guitar now though.

We became connected to Dan through Myspace believe it our not. His band Studio was kind of ending at the time we contacted him, and I think he was looking for something different to cleanse his palette with. It was a matter of good timing. He had expressed his interest in finding new collaborators to his girlfriend, and apparently we messaged him the next day or something. So we both kind of took it as a sign.

We understand that you have two young kids at home. How has parenting shifted the dynamics of the band?

We were really worried that our kids would somehow cramp the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of the band in some way. But it turns out our kids take the edge off the crustier moments in the van; they’re sweet and naive and make everyone smile for the most part. But then we haven’t toured with both of them yet. That starts tomorrow… maybe you should re-ask this question in a week, haha!

They seem to love the music — our oldest is four and wants us to play our records to him before he sleeps, it’s pretty adorable. Our youngest dances constantly… music stops him in his tracks. He’s a chip off the old block.

What song do you feel most connected to or enjoy performing?

Right now, I’m loving “The Night Wants Us To Be Free” — playing it is super fun — it grooves and gets me into a playful mindset when I’m playing it. If I’m worried or have a furrowed brow before that, it’s gone by the time we’re playing that song.

What artists are you listening to right now? All-time favorite?

As you can imagine, we just went through another obsessive Bowie phase. He is the greatest pop star of all time with the greatest breadth of output, hands down.

The trailer for the tour looks super intriguing. Can you elaborate a bit about what you’re trying to achieve with your live show? (We can’t wait to see it!)
 

We’re trying to cheat the game with this show. Bands like us aren’t supposed to have production values or choreography. We wanted to prove that a band that doesn’t make a lot of money can put on an amazing show. These days commerce gets to dictate people’s perceptions of what is good, cutting edge or exciting in the live setting. Somehow we manage to put a show together that subverts that expectation — we want people to see it and have their jaw hanging on the floor by the time it’s over.

View the Falsework tour trailer below, find Young Galaxy’s 2016 tour dates on their website — and as a bonus check out their amazing modern cover of Madonna’s “Open Your Heart.”

Mt. Si – Either / Or

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Mt. Si captivated our attention in 2014 with shimmering tracks “Oh” and “True.” While their identity was unknown at the time, it was recently revealed that the group is made up of singer Sarah Chernoff of Superhumanoids, Jesse Kivel of Kisses, and Michael David of Classixx — and now suddenly everything makes sense. Since realizing their potential as a trio, the dreamy three-piece “have been slowly chipping away at songs for almost four years now,” explains Kivel. “[We take] a relaxed and loose approach to the project, never settling until we have a great track has been one of the guiding principles.”

Their new single “Either / Or” showcases just that, and serves as a shining example of electropop at its most stylish and fluid. The track will be featured on their upcoming EP Limits, out February 5 on Cascine.

Brave Shores – More Like You

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The honor of first post from the first wave of 2016 submissions goes to Brave Shores, a brother-sister duo based out of Toronto. Comprised of Jay and Stefanie McCarrol, the sibling duo released their eponymous debut EP in the fall, although their promo efforts seem to have just picked up. Listen to “More Like You,” a dreamy synthpop number below and also watch the whimsical video for their single “Surfs Up.” Sort of Mary Poppins meets Jungle Book.

Kisses – The Nile

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While we wait patiently to be wowed by new releases in the new year, we thought to share a recent effort from alt-pop outfit Kisses, who released their third album Rest in Paradise this past October. The LA duo has always been a reliable source for groovy dance beats, and standout track off the new LP “The Nile” is no exception. According to singer Jesse Kivel, “The Nile” is a nod to a Rod Stewart track that he felt mirrored some of his more obscure disco favorites from the ’70s. “Both me and Zinzi are really interested in pop artists who ‘went disco’—Paul McCartney, The Stones, Blondie, Rod Stewart, the list goes on. Putting these two worlds together was something we felt destined to do,” Kivel explained to Interview mag. It’s the best, so stream below.

Paperwhite – Get Away

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Brooklyn’s brother-sister synthpop duo Paperwhite haven’t released any new music in over a year, and their new track “Get Away” is a welcome return. They’ve been doing just that for the past year, spending their hibernation period writing, creating and generally “going deeper into the Paperwhite world” according to Ben Marshall. Expanding on what that means, he explains: “We’ve been talking a lot about this idea of ‘future tribal’ as an aesthetic. Primal drums, pop songwriting, and instruments from a parallel electronic universe. The music we’ve been working on feels like a step in that direction and we’re so excited to hear what people think.” Listen below.

Poliça – Lime Habit

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Prayers are with Paris on this tragic day, but in much less sombre news, Poliça have announced a third album and successor to 2013’s Shulamith. The new LP, United Crushers will be out March 4 via Mom + Pop / Memphis Industries.

Inspired by Poliça’s home base in Minneapolis where they wrote the record, the album is said to be a love letter to their hometown and its tumultuous political history. Listen to the first taste off the LP “Lime Habit” below, plus prior effort “Chain My Name” for good measure.

Along with the news comes the announcement of their US Spring 2016 tour, so be sure to check out the dates below.

Poliça Spring 2016 Tour Dates:

02-11 Berlin, Germany – Berghain Kantine
02-15 London, England – Village Underground
02-19 New York, NY – Rough Trade
02-22 Chicago, IL – Schubas
03-02 Minneapolis, MN – Turf Club
03-03 Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
03-04 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
03-08 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews
03-09 Omaha, NE – Waiting Room
03-10 Tulsa, OK – The Vanguard
03-11 Houston, TX – Warehouse Studio
03-12 Dallas, TX – The Loft
03-22 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent
03-23 San Diego, CA – Irenic
03-25 Los Angeles, CA – Fonda
03-26 San Francisco, CA – Fillmore
03-28 Portland, OR – Doug Fir
03-29 Portland, OR – Doug Fir
03-30 Vancouver, British Columbia – Imperial
03-31 Seattle, WA – Neptune
04-14 Madison, WI – High Noon
04-15 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
04-16 Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
04-18 Ann Arbor, MI – Blind Pig
04-20 Toronto, Ontario – Lee’s Palace
04-21 Montreal, Quebec – Petit Campus
04-22 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
04-23 New York, NY – Warsaw
04-25 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
04-26 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
04-28 Raleigh, NC – Cat’s Cradle
04-29 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
04-30 Nashville, TN – Mercy
05-01 Asheville, NC – Mothlight
05-04 Cincinnati, OH – Madison Live
05-05 Columbus, OH – A&R Bar (basement)
05-06 Columbia, MO – Rose Music Hall
05-07 Lawrence, KS – Bottleneck