Blonder definitely gets an 80s feel with their track “Talk to Me,” especially with each verse’s Casio-sounding tick-tock metronome beat that then transitions to the bridge’s staccato snares that mimic the first few beats of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle.” Capturing a Boy George “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” style, Blonder evokes the type of longing felt by their new wave predecessors.
Los Angeles’s Alex and Ben Kazenoff combine their production skills with Jenny Helms’s vocals to create Mood Robot.
Their track “Ghost” is stylistically CHVRCHES led by Mandy Lee (of Misterwives and The Knocks fame), calling to arms people who allow themselves to become ghosts safe from their fears but living in discontent. Mood Robot succeeds at the dancey and hopeful yet introspective track.
Anna of the North is the a recent (as of last year) musical import from Scandinavia – her social media accounts literally state “Scandinavia” except for Twitter – which specifies “Norway.”
Last week, she released “Baby” – a dreamy yet heartsick electropop track evoking both the ghosts of past relationships (“Baby – am I still the one you think you know?”) and the anxiety (and excitement) of a potential romance (You make my heart start beating in my chest. Baby, hold tight. Don’t fight it.) – much the way Sorcha Richardson’s “Petrol Station” portrays excitement and regret about love.
Geographer released a cover of New Order’s classic “Age of Consent” – which is included in their ‘Endless Motion Vol. 1’ EP out today!
Yesterday, NRVS LVRS released their debut album “The Golden West” – a shoegaze love letter to San Francisco. BoxSpeaker got a chance to discuss the new album, influences, and the effects of gentrification with Andrew Gomez of NRVS LVRS.
BoxSpeaker: With so many layers to each song both rhythmically and lyrically, what’s the band’s songwriting process? Do you ever have some lyrics and think “yeah, let’s make this happier, with kind of a 60s influence the way Camera Obscura does it” like “Golden West” feels and then suddenly think for another song “mmmm electro beats would be nice here” like in “City Lights”? You all really have a wide variety of styles throughout your tracks but still manage to maintain a connection rather than sounding like an album that’s all over the place.
Andrew Gomez: For this album, the songwriting process involved me creating a demo of a musical idea (or in the case of “City Lights”, Wendy’s idea), and then having different members come in to add their own colors to it. Throughout the process, Bevin and I would bounce lyrical ideas off of each other and share them with the band to get their takes. In every case, the music came first, and then it was a matter of trying to make the lyrics fit with not only the song but the rest of the songs on the album. Regarding how we choose to approach each song, it really is on a case by case basis. For example, “Black Diamonds” seemed like a jangle pop song from the beginning, so putting an electronic beat on it would’ve felt forced. In my humble home studio, we’re able to try out a number of ideas, and it becomes immediately apparent what works and what doesn’t. I’m glad the songs seem cohesive despite the different directions we go, as that was something we were going for.
BS: Where do you get inspiration from? I’ve read that this album is in a way a response to the best and worst of living in San Francisco – are there other threads or experiences that you intertwine?
AG: I get inspiration from other art, like movies and books, as well as other music, but I also get it from bizarre stories that make the rounds. I’ve had enough go on in my life to write about just myself, but it’s more interesting and freeing for me to try to put myself in another person’s shoes and write from that perspective and to make someone else’s story personal.
BS: With the discourse on gentrification, tech, evictions, income inequality, etc in San Francisco, as musicians, how do you feel we can keep the City awesome?
AG: In some ways, and I know this sounds depressing, but the battle feels like it has already been lost. So much has already changed, so many of our friends have been displaced, and so many of the working class communities have been gentrified to the point that there’s really no going back. The only thing keeping us here is rent control. That’s it. Without it, we’d be forced out of the city we grew up in, and it’s simultaneously enraging and disheartening when the SF political majority is not only allowing it to happen, they’re crafting new rules and exceptions to encourage it. This album is our little take on it and allows us to vent in a creative way, but it could never be as influential as a few strokes of the pen from the mayor’s office. To get back to your question, I could say, “Hey, go see more live music, support local businesses, be more neighborly, and have more compassion for the less fortunate that live in our city,” but I’ve got a feeling that many people moving here don’t really give a shit about preserving the sense of culture and community that used to be here.
BS: Who are your influences? I’ve seen NRVS LVRS compared to a wide variety of bands from Phantogram to Stars and I definitely hear it. Personally, I love the wide range because some tracks sound a bit like The National and Broken Social Scene mixed together and even a little Phoenix and a little spooky 80s feel in “Cordoba Grey.”
AG: It’s fun hearing what other bands people think we sound like. After reading about the comparisons, I’ve delved deeper into some of those bands, like Broken Social Scene and Phantogram, since I was only vaguely familiar with them. But, growing up, The Smiths’ Morrissey helped me learn how to sing based on the fact his vocal register was somewhat close to mine. I also was introduced to electronic hybrid bands like Massive Attack and Portishead pretty early on, and they helped me see the sonic possibilities that were available. I also became obsessed with erotic film score compilations like Beat At Cinecittá and Easy Tempo thanks to a friend, and those were also a great inspiration.
BS: What’s each of your favorite parts of the City?
AG: During the day, Bevin and I love to walk around North Beach. It’s one of the last neighborhoods to really have a community feel to it. At night, I enjoy the bars that are near where Valencia and Mission intersect, like The Knockout!, Virgil’s, and The Royal Cuckoo. They support and/or play great music, and they’re far enough on the outskirts to have remain relatively unchanged and still feel like home.
BS: When you’re not making music, what else do you love to do?
AG: Listening to records, going to shows, and discovering new music is something I’ll always do, I hope. I also play in a semi-organized baseball league comprised of dirt bags, punk rockers, and bearded weirdos. It’s a fun collection of guys who dig music but also like to drink beer and play baseball once a week. It’s a way to get outside, forget about everything, and spackle over the damage youth organizations and angry adults can do to the basic enjoyment of a children’s game.
BS: Lastly, what’s your most fun / memorable tour or live moment so far?
AG: We had a great show in Monterey with our pals The Silhouette Era, as the response was really great. It was one of those shows where we didn’t really draw any of our own friends or fans, so the people there had no incentive to pay attention, let alone enjoy the show. We felt welcome after the first song, and it was exciting to be around people who weren’t jaded and wanted to discover a new band.
Check them out tonight at their album release and opening for The Stratford 4 at Rickshaw Stop and the rest of the month across Northern California:
– September 9th – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
– September 12th – Chico, CA – The Maltese
– September 13th – Sacramento, CA – TBA
– October 6th – San Francisco, CA – The Independent – opening for Telekinesis and Say Hi!
Sorcha Richardson eloquently brings you back to your summer love and then breaks your heart when she reminds you of where you are now with her track “Petrol Station”.
Partially PBR&B a la BANKS and George Maple, Sorcha’s voice is simultaneously soothing and passionate, blending with the light riffs at the 1-minute mark and then standing out strongly at the start of the chorus a 15 seconds after.
Singing “If I, If I never told you that I wanna hold you, that I wanna hold you, I just wish it was old news” and “My rib cage is bruised, but that side of love we tasted, You find that stuff you chase it”, Sorcha travels back to the moments that stand out with a past unrequited love or possibly a passionate but fleeting experience. It’s that time when you keep thinking “Fuck, there will never be a love this amazing.”
But by stating “I’m not holding out For anything better,” Sorcha also reminds you that you will carry that love forever – “Can we just stay here forever?”
Orlando, Florida’s SALES has a stripped down sound mixed with Lykke Li + French Yé-yé style vocals. It’s as if Lykke Li stripped out the electrobeats and the yéyé girls slowed their music down then sang for a very relaxed 2010 garage band – like Beach House but purposely fewer layers and less Telecaster notes.
The lo-fi style initially masks the actual complexity in some of the short riffs throughout songs like “Renee”:
“Vows” – This is a sit on the grass at 3pm with a cigarette type of song.
MØ just released “New Year’s Eve” for the last 2 days of the year. With Imogen Heap-esque autotune harmonies, MØ gives us a departure from usual fast tempoed, excited NYE songs – instead presenting a track that reveals a more realistic range of emotions for any holiday.
Much like Tove Lo’s “Habits,” MØ shows that it’s not always a fun party – sometimes we’re trying to get over our issues with more champagne and hope for a better year.