jack robert hardman

Jack Robert Hardman first grabbed attention in late 2012 with his beguiling track “Plymouth”, featuring sprawling, multi-layered pop harmonies. “I Don’t Need An Answer”, the second track from JRH’s latest EP, The Great Unknown, scales back the ambition a bit but is no less endearing and may even clarify the multi-instrumentalists songwriting prowess:

More to chomp on here »

Swimming

Fayetteville, Arkansas indie rockers SW/MM/NG is a good example of a music festival discovery you absolute fail to pursue until much later. When I stumbled upon them at last year’s CMJ, they were a pleasant surprise in every regard – their name easily searchable due to a cease and desist from a UK band kept them from going by Swimming (the proper pronunciation of their name), a tight and talented band with easy to consume offerings – the only thing that kept me from pursuing them in earnest after that was surprisingly enough the band name. With their FB and Bandcamp pages still under the old moniker, a cursory search turned up very little and yet made me more intrigued. How does a band play CMJ with no music out there to promote? It struck me as a particular bold move for a young band and one that endeared them to me regardless of whether or not that was actually their motive (it wasn’t).

Fast forward several months later and with their debut album Feel Not Bad on the horizon, and my interest in SW/MM/NG was reignited seemingly out of nowhere. A stray link to their album stream brought the memory of their awesome live set back and I hunkered down and dug in. “Some Dreams Come True” and the majority of SW/MM/NG’s songs, especially on Feel Not Bad are absolutely ready-made summer jams. With just the right touches of pop vernacular, SW/MM/NG’s songs are brightly colored, infectiously memorable, and intensely enjoyable. Everything about SW/MM/NG’s core structure recalls lazy summer days while avoiding the clutches of typical beach pop stylings – from Brian Kupillas’ drawling vocals to the effervescent melodies and angular guitar lines all work hand in hand to remarkable effect.

SW/MM/NG’s debut full length Feel Not Bad is out August 26th on Old Flame Records. Preorder it here »

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Misun

I stumbled upon Kitsuné  America 3, the latest compilation from French electronic label Kitsuné, through the inclusion of previous featured electro pop duo My Body’s new track “If I Need You, I’ll Call”. While a definite new direction from the band’s heretofore recorded input, the real showstealer of the compilation happened to come from recently transplanted DC band Misun. Known for tinkering around in pretty much every area of pop music from world to RB-esque dalliances,  the quartet have set their sights on conquering the beachy summer single in “Eli Eli” and certainly succeeded in that task. From its 60’s style female-fronted vocal harmonies, to it’s chill rock ‘n roll swagger “Eli Eli” is an immaculate pop confection – it’s guilt free and infectious without being saccharine – frontwoman Misun Wojcik imbuing the track with a lot of its energy, bringing the turbulence of her big, brassy vocals to the rather placid accompaniment. While guitar and bass circle each other and drums mostly keep the beat, Woljcik brings the heat – delivering stormy declarations of love that escalate to a borderline Shakespearean extremes. It’s a balancing act between butterfly-inducing infatuation and darkly glimmering dependence, Wojcik’s pleading lyrics almost completely at odds with her utterly commanding  vocal presence – a sleight of hand type of vulnerability that you’re likely miss in the toe-tapping sun-kissed pop of “Eli Eli”.

 

The compilation is out now and features a uniquely outside view of what Kitsuné thinks are some of  the best up and coming bands in the USA – not a bad guess considering they include artists like Lucius, Son Lux, and My Body.

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FILED: Listen, Misun

alexia avina

Montreal’s bedroom crooner and ukelele’r Alexia Avina released her sleepy, delicate debut EP for free less than a month back. It’s a loosely wound and sparse four-track EP that’s perfect for August’s waning summer days.

Download the EP here »

Cantina

There is a moment on Vensaire’s self-titled EP where a heretofore background member of the band shines bright as beacon, illuminated in a soft but vibrant spotlight that causes you to think “Who is that and where can I hear more?”

 

 

That moment is “They Are Growing” where Vensaire’s unique brand of experimental world/folk inspired chamber pop with occasionally electronic dalliances becomes something totally other. It’s Renata Zeiguer’s moment, her voice like siren song and no doubt aided in its sorcery by creamy, atmospheric textures. Perhaps the most surprising thing about singer/multi-instrumentalist Renata Zeiguer is that while playing with two of the most innovative Brooklyn bands going in Vensaire and Landlady that she has been able to allude notice; contributing majorly to the ensemble sound while drawing very little attention her way. Hopefully that changes with her personal musical project Cantina.

Taking its cues from “They Are Growing”, Cantina relishes the strengths of Zeiguer’s enchanting light vocals in their dreamy arrangements. Zeigeur aims for the tropics but reaches the stars as Cantina manages to transcend the beachy vibe of their tropical inspiration and land somewhere far more striking. Zeiguer’s arrangements are wide and spacious, allowing the vocals full range of moment as they flitter and glide; Birkin-esque in their coquetteish coo and yet, a part of Zeiguer’s distinct textural palette themselves.

Fittingly,  many of Landlady’s members (including its mastermind Adam Schatz) had a hand in helping Zeiguer’s vision come to life. Their touch is a light one however, allowing Zeiguer’s resplendent dream pop to stand mostly on her own creative merits. The result is songs that are captivatingly sparse, subtly arranged, and beguiling in its simplicity. It’s a winning combination that should serve Cantina very well. Cantina’s 7 song Horizons EP is out/available for stream/download via Bandcamp.

 

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