Although she hasn’t charted yet stateside, Berlin-based Spanish singer-songwriter Sofi De La Torre has already made an impression in the US, with publications like Time praising her latest single “Vermillion” as, “The gloriously gloomy song of the summer” and by Billboard as, “One of the best songs of the year.” Teaming up with German house producers Andre Crom and Chi Thanh, the remix version of “Vermillion” was recently spun by Tiesto on BBC Radio 1.
Launch a Sofi De La Torre here to hear what all the fuss is about!
Juan Wauters (his real name) is solo project of the singer for Queens-based DIY/garage band The Beets. His debut project N.A.P. North American Poetry has appeared on numerous Best Of 2014 lists and is considered by bloggers and critics as one of the year’s underrated and overlooked releases. Retaining much of The Beets punk/Beatle-esque pop influences, he incorporates personal songwriting elements in addition to Tropicalia and South American folk – which he encountered growing up in Uruguay.
There seems to be a bit of an underground music boom going on now in China, with loads of small labels, cool venues and young independent bands popping up. Chinese and ex-pats alike making all sorts of fantastic noise – much of it is heavily beholden to the classic sound of American indie rock and post-punk. Alpine Decline are a duo from L.A. now living in China, who over the last couple years have released a clutch of fantastic records. Each recording is a murky, rhythmic gem bursting with a hazy, noisy, psychedelic crunch and moody melodic tangles. Alpine Decline effortlessly finds the perfect sonic sweet spot between the difficult dissonance of Sonic Youth, the swirling shoegaze dreaminess of My Bloody Valentine and the brooding gloom of Wipers.
The videos on YouTube are truly bizarre – a schlubby middle-aged man in a plaid shirt tucked into “dad jeans” (sometimes sporting random Band-Aids) stands awkwardly in front of a mic stand. His body is superimposed over random bits of seemingly found footage, as well as some strange holographic rainbow birds. Rife with primitive effects, cheesy screen-wipes, and oddest of all, some random product placement (Cheetos!); what could have been just another amateur online oddity becomes something else altogether when Mark Gormley begins to sing. In songs like “Little Wings” his voice sounds impossibly (and improbably) angelic and fragile, his ethereal vocals drifting spectrally over a simple folky strum. It’s a haunting, softly psychedelic, melancholic dream-folk that recalls Nick Drake and Tim Buckley. Only a handful of singles exist from this mysterious and reclusive troubadour. It all sounds more like lost psych-folk treasures recorded in a bedsit circa ‘70s Britain than recent recordings made in an apartment on the Gulf Coast.
Clark – Clark
Chris Clark is one of the most creative artists in electronic music and his latest release on Warp Records further cements this position. Fully informed by his musical predecessors, Clark’s self-titled release tiptoes back and forth from aggressive techno to dreamy soundscapes, over to tripped-out dystopian constructs. Each track bubbles and pulsates along its journey, and each track is a journey indeed – with the sounds constantly twisting and morphing into something new and surprising, you won’t find much repetition here. If you’ve ever enjoyed Autechre, Amon Tobin, Thom Yorke or Aphex Twin, give Clark a listen here, and enjoy the ride!
Brokedown In Bakersfield – Live!
In what is arguably the biggest tribute to classic California honky tonk, Brokedown In Bakersfield is a supergroup sextet. The band comprises grambling chanteuse Nicki Bluhm and her husband Tim (of Mother Hips) as backed by Steve Adams, Dave Brogan and Lebo from ALO. Joining them is Telecaster master Scott Law (whose own solo recordings are totally worth checking out). Brokedown in Bakersfield’s live recordings hark back to a time when Central Valley honky tonk recordings were giving Nashvegas a run for its money. They cover classics by Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons as well as Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, The Louvin Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and others. Launch Pandora’s Brokedown In Bakersfield station here and hear for yourself how this band sounds as if they’re playing The Crystal Palace in the early ‘70s!
Various Artists – Ghetto Youths International Presents Set Up Shop, Vol. 2
Ghetto Youths Crew is a record label founded by the Marley Brothers to help underprivileged youths who fight the struggle to survive. It was created by Ziggy, Stephen, Julian and Damian Marley who are all sons of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley. Set Up Shop, Vol. 2 includes powerful Reggae anthems from veterans Wayne Marshall (“On The Corner”), Christopher Ellis (“Roller Coaster”) and the Marley Brothers’ Stephen (“Ragga”) and Damian “Jr. Gong” (“Strike Hard”). You can hear selections from Ghetto Youths International Presents Set Up Shop, Vol. 2 on our Today’s Reggae Roots genre station.