Friday, May 4, 2012

Shoegaze / Indie Pop - The Swerve debut release "Wonder" single

We here at Musica Phenomena were lucky enough to get advanced copies of soon-to-be-released material by The Swerve and have been hot on their tip from the get-go. Mikael Johnston, lead songwriter and producer of The Swerve, is a name we've been familiar with from his success that started with 90's San Francisco house music act, Mephisto Odyseey, and more recently, as one half of the dance production duo, Dresden & Johnston. Over the years and during these accomplishments I have always encouraged him to go back to his roots and explore the shoegaze, electronica and indie pop side to his personality and feel that The Swerve is Mikael in his true element.

Johnston teamed up with lead vocalist, Jana Hanavan, and newcomer producer, Dave Watson, to create a perfect meld of their musical backgrounds into an indie pop shoegaze bliss. Utilizing organic instruments as much as electronics, The Swerve are connected to the same music realm as other favorites of ours, I Break Horses, Stripmall Architecture (and their previous band, Halou), School Of Seven Bells, Class Actress, Au Revoir Simone, Ladytron's newest outing, and even Phantogram. For those that have been avidly following our podcasts and recent posts, you will see that The Swerve have been featured in our David Bowie "Low Broken Radio" podcast that I was fortunate enough to vocal coach Jana Hanavan on for their strikingly different rendition of "What In The World", were part of the Dark Side Of Pop compilation, and even more recently on my Ghosts Of The Virgin Suicides "Happy Haunting Ground" podcast with an exclusive early version of "Wonder" that I just love. Now, with their first official release, "Wonder" proves that they are headed for the spotlight and I believe they will find great success once they have made their presence known. "Wonder" features remixes by Rubicon 7 and Some Ember (Dylan Travis' new project - frontman of Man Miracle) and for a limited time you can download the single for free below, courtesy of Bandcamp.

- Michael Fierce

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NEW! Ghosts Of The Virgin Suicides - Podcast Part 2 "Happy Haunting Ground"

The Lisbon girls were 13, Cecilia, 14, Lux, 15, Bonnie, 16, Mary, and 17, Therese. This is the second installment of our ongoing Ghosts Of The Virgin Suicides series of podcasts. "Happy Haunting Ground" tells a different story. All songs here have a central focus on the original main theme song from the movie, "Playground Love" by Air with vocals by Gordon Tracks, better known as Thomas Mars, lead singer of Phoenix. Unlike our first in the series, this isn't so much a ghostly reminder of the original, but more a story of "...what the girls listened to", while still retaining the "Playground Love" theme just below its' surface. The songs, like the girls, are different in attitude and style, hopefully reflecting their different personalities. The ghosts of the Lisbon girls make their presence known once again for another haunting collection of songs. We hope you will like this! Download the entire podcast featuring Go-yo, Broken Bells, Sacred Animals, Joy Zipper, The Swerve and several other bands and hard-to-find tracks below.

- Michael Fierce

Download Happy Haunting Ground Podcast From iTunes

Download Happy Haunting Ground Directly From Our Server

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Electronic / Shoegaze / Chillwave Gem - PALLERS "The Sea Of Memories" (2011)

Pallers are Henrik MĂ„rtensson and Johan AngergĂ„rd from Sweden, on Labrador. Both have worked together under Johan's previous moniker, The Legends. However, while their previous work was notable and had memorable moments, when they officially became a full-fledged band as Pallers, their new band added elements and a production sound that enhanced everything they do to a higher level. This is their debut album. For me, from beginning to end, this is a mesmerizing, emotionally complex, original, instant classic.  Well, I should say, with the exception of #9, "Wicked", every song is incredible. "Wicked", isn't a bad song, just abruptly too upbeat, and being the one song sung by a girl, feels out of place. The album is a mixture of warm and cold. Like snow-covered fields on a sunny day. Like hot blood running through you as you make your way under a cold, grey sky. Like a warm night with an unexpected eclipse of the moon breaking through the clouds above. Together, Johan's voice and heart-breaking lyrics, are a thing of beauty. The Pallers music is sometimes subtle and sometimes epic but not with any of the usual forced epicness many bands seem to be at fault for. It has elements of synthpop, chillwave, shoegaze, electro pop and electronica but is seamless in it's weave of perfection. Standout tracks are "Come Rain, Come Sunshine", "Years Go, Days Pass", "The Kiss", "Wired" and my favorite, the closing song, "Nights". If you haven't heard this yet you are really missing out. This is our first recommendation in a wave of albums, and EP's I will be reviewing in our new feature, spotlighting "gems" and "diamonds in the rough" you need to know about and might have missed out on dating from 1997 to the present. Pallers, "Sea Of Memories" is my highest recommendation of 2011!!!

- Michael Fierce

Friday, March 23, 2012

4 Free Live EPs by Dead Can Dance

We at Musica Phenomena have been long time Dead Can Dance (DCD) fans, after all they are one of the original 4AD bands and considered part of a group of artists recognized as being around during the "classic era" of 4AD. Some argue about when that era actually ended but most agree sometime between 1990-95 depending on who you talk to. If you don't know what 4AD is I encourage you to read about their rich history here 4AD a brief history on Wikipedia. I could go into more detail about 4AD but why when I'm here to talk about DCD who are Brenden Perry and Lisa Gerrard.

Even those who don't know DCD have probably heard Lisa's haunting vocals in such film soundtracks as Gladiator, or perhaps even seen her act in the lesser known 1989 Spanish film "El Nino de la Luna" in which she appears completely nude and looking extremely hot might I add! Brendan we love you too but thanks for not appearing nude in any films during your career.

Their reunion which was originally announced last year on Brenden Perry's website has not been updated much since the announcement but what has changed is the addition of a list of confirmed international shows and their perspective ticket sale dates on their official website Dead Can Dance Official Website. As for the new album... well, we've read that it will be released sometime between mid and late 2012, and as far as we know there has been no title yet given to this forthcoming release. However if any of you out there have any more information as to what is going on with the duo's reunion, tour or upcoming album please leave a post in the comments on our blog, or drop us a note directly if you're shy and we'll post it for you. ;)

- M. Pereira

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

French ambient electronica artist Xelomen releases "My Nebula" EP

Xelomen is an ambient, electronica, chillwave artist from Marmande, France. Influenced by artists such as Arovane, Brian Eno, and Craig Armstrong, Xelomen finds inspiration for creating music from her own life experiences. Her music ebbs and flows with waves of passion and melancholy. This is definitely an artist to watch. You can listen to her latest EP "My Nebula" below.

- M. Pereira

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Fierce Spotlight" Musica Phenomena has a conversation with Casa del Mirto.

Recently Musica Phenomena managed to catch up with one of Italy's premier indie electronic acts Casa del Mirto. Coming off of their recent double album release titled "The Nature" and their heralded remix of Class Actress' song "Weekend" Casa del Mirto took some time from their busy tour schedule to speak with us and this is what they had to say.

Musica Phenomena: You're from Italy, tell us a little about yourself and how the name Case del Mirto came to be?

Casa del Mirto: "Casa del Mirto" means "House of Myrtle". The myrtle (Mirto) is a plant that is used to make an excellent liquor. We live in northern Italy, and this liquor is a sort of "rarity", but in our town there was once a bar that served it (for breakfast) to the workers of a garage called "Casa del Freno" (it means "House of Brake). We have just joined the two things (House of Brake + Myrtle = House of Myrtle/Casa del Mirto), just for fun!

Musica Phenomena: I have heard and seen releases by you defined in different genres; glo-fi, chillwave, shoegaze - we're you influenced by any oldschool shoegaze bands like The Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, or Ride, growing up?

Casa del Mirto: For sure, bands like My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins have played an important role for our taste in music. These plays helped us to grow up in the teenage years, together with eletronic bands like Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode 'till the house music of the 90's. However is very difficult to say what has influenced us more, because we're used to listen and assimilate a lot of music. We are continuously searching for something that hits us and leaves us breathless.

Musica Phenomena: You're doing remixes as well as your own original material. Your Class Actress remix is wonderful and featured here on our blog. I know you recently finished a remix for The Swerve. How was that experience?

Casa del Mirto: We consider remixes as if they were our songs and we love to remodel tracks of other bands according to our personal style. We got in touch with Class Actress, after listening to them on a music blog. It was a good collaboration and the remix received a lot of good reviews, we're proud of it!

Yes, we just finished a remix for The Swerve, and we enjoyed the collaboration. They asked us for a remix of a song, so we listened to their two EPs and we literally fell in love with "Taken Apart". We worked hard and we like the result… hope you're gonna hear it soon! Maybe we'll stay in touch with them for a collaboration in the future, you'll never know!

Musica Phenomena: I've been a big fan of yours since the beginning, over a year now. "The Haste", from what I understand, is the song that put you guys on the map and is excellent. However, my favorite track is "Jacket And Shoes", a very catchy tune I hope more fans come to know - can you tell me what that song is about?

Casa del Mirto: The Haste and Jacket and Shoes have, more or less, the same theme: they both speak about the loss of control of your own life. J & S tells the story of a boy who has lost hope, a boy that has done everything in life and did not ever achieved anything. The situation degenerates to such an extent that eventually he wears his shoes and his jacket and just leave. It's actually a metaphor, the boy takes his own life. We liked the idea of using lyrics like these on a catchy and thoughtless music!

Musica Phenomena: Planning on any tours to America? Love to have you here in SF (San Francisco).

Casa del Mirto: We'd like to do it!! At the moment we're touring Italy so we are really busy 'till the end of the summer, nevertheless we're working in order to organize something in Europe, U.S. and SouthAmerica for the autumn and the next year, so we'll keep you informed or just check out our label website or our blog: We're even on Facebook!

Musica Phenomena: Chillwave is a genre I see on the rise and growing in diversity - bands like Washed Out, Niva, Persona La Ave, Chrome Sparks, Sleep 8 Over, Memory Tapes, Computer Magic, and even I Break Horses, are being defined as such - Are you a fan of any of them?

Casa del Mirto: We love the "I Break Horses" LP and along with this even some of the stuff of the names mentioned above. However, often, we find ourselves listening to stuff that has not so much to do with Chillwave in strictly speaking, stuff that has a "special mood" able to affect us and excite us. We say that we are omnivores listeners.

Musica Phenomena: And since our blog is, first and foremost, about promoting artists of Indie and Electronic music and all of it's sub-genres, are there any newer artists and / or albums you can recommend to our listeners?

Casa del Mirto: The last LP of Xiu Xiu, TRST of Trust, Oneohtrix Point Never, Soft Metals, Soap and Skin, Tearjerker and "Waves of past relation" of Atoi.

Musica Phenomena: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, but, before you go, can you tell us of any upcoming releases or events we can expect from you in the near future? And where can one go to purchase your music and find out more about you? Thanks again for being a part of our blog, Musica Phenomena, for our new feature, "Fierce Spotlight" -- Michael Fierce

Casa del Mirto: Thank you for the questions, we're happy to be hear with you! We don't have any release scheduled for the near future, our last double LP "The Nature" was released in november 2011, so we'll be touring for a while. According to our commitments we'd like to collaborate with other bands or to do some remixes. But, you never know, maybe we can take the time to release some single soon, inspiration can't be scheduled!

You can purchase our music here:
Vinyl and tapes: (there's even something in free download)

Digital: and on all the digital stores.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Some Ember's "Era of Wind"

Some Ember is a project we've been following since before founder Dylan Travis of "Man Miracle" had even released their first song. Some Ember hearkens slightly back to the heyday of 4AD while still being very much it's own thing. Dylan's voice has an indisputable Brendan Perry (of Dead Can Dance) quality but that's where any similarity to DCD ends for the most part. Some Ember's music itself is so much darker, psychedelic, experimental and more haunting than anything by DCD. In fact his second and latest offering "Era of Wind" comes from such a deep, dark and introspective space that some may find it challenging as it may take them to a place inside themselves that they weren't expecting to go, as it did me. Never the less this is an extraordinary new project by a very gifted artist, we're interested to see where Some Ember goes next. Musica Phenomena will definitely be keeping it's eyes and ears on Dylan Travis but for now you owe it to yourself to download a free copy of "Era of Wind" below.

- M Pereira

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dark Side of Pop Compilation Review

Wanting to review something special, I chose this incredible compilation from the Cowshed Records label out of Poland. Appropriately to our tastes here at Musica Phenomena, the musical styles of "Dark Side Of Pop" cover a vast array of subgenres connected to Indie and Electronic music. Dream pop, shoegaze, chillwave, ambient, indie pop, dubstep, etc., all gathered here for the melding of sometimes shimmery, sometimes challenging, cutting-edge music with the darker side of pop at the core of it's heart. Port-Royal, one of the better known artists here, start it off with a hazy slow moving storm with "Electric Tears (Nothing's Gonna Change)", that soon stirs up the ocean beneath it with a vocal that sounds like someone out there on the waves is trying to break through to the shore. A track that changes and causes more turmoil than at first expected, only to become quiet again, and because it is in the same key as the next track, seems to segue into it. Saskatchewan, a band I'd heard of but hadn't had the chance to explore before, surprise me greatly with their poppy "Skinny Dipping". This song is both catchy and dreamy and opens up the possibilities of where the direction of this album is heading while connecting the many styles nearly all-in-one. Incredibly, the next song is also in the same key, allowing for the album to really impress on me that it is a storybook of sound. The Swerve, who I've had the great pleasure of working with recently, begin their song very reminiscent of the "Virgin Suicides" soundtrack by Air, then shift into an indie pop song enshrouded in wisps of shoegaze fog. The lyrics and melody are outstanding and I imagine you will be singing them to yourself here and there like I have caught myself doing a number of times. Jana Hanavan has a very beautiful, distinctive voice that is borderline twee pop, but with serious intonations, that give the words both lighthearted hope and sadness too. The Swerve are one of the bands to watch in 2012. Next up is Sleep Party People. I hear all sorts of influences in their sound but they are completely their own. The beginning builds into something similar to OMD"s "Joan Of Arc" and when the vocal comes in I can hear everything from Radiohead to Clinic to Sigur Ros to even the more serious songs of The Residents. One of the best songs here and I have to wonder if these guys aren't going to be an overnight success. And if you're not convinced with just this one song, check out their videos on YouTube. I couldn't help but notice that other comments coincided with mine that there is a Donnie Darko like quality to the band. OK. I will try to concentrate on the highlights of this compilation so this review isn't ten pages long but most of it is a collection of highlights so it will be hard. Pleq's track is an ambient piece with a droney beat that I really enjoy. Next is "Ugle" by Electric Fitness with a melody that strongly resembles a slower "Eleventh!" from Arovane's classic "Tides" LP, and would fit as perfectly there as much as it does here. Sun Glitters are another band I'm familiar with and this one has an ambient dubsteppy thing going on with some cool vocal snatches that give it an otherworldly feel. Digital.Rape has whispery vocals, strong melodic touches and cutting edge samples, haunting all the way through. There is a lot of tension, but it is never misplaced in Herr-Etic's "Dirty Girl In Dirty World" - a perfect name for this song might I add. Then we have the vocally melodic Face+heel and I really have to hand it to the arranger of this comp, because stylistically the song is a big shift from the one preceding it but once again the transition from one song to the next is smoothly handled. The vocal outbursts of games people play are balanced nicely with the electronics, then to the percussive electronics of SBTLS, to the heavy ambient drone of KVLTIK, and with it's persistent vocal blips, is another highlight. "Altered State", another perfect name, by Sweet Garden, is an aggressive electronic instrumental, and Body Spam rides the line between ambient and dubstep. I'm not fluent in Autechre so don't make me try to pronounce the next band name, but the hieroglyphics look like this: ∑B❍L▲ ▲P∑ with their music being as interesting as their name. MJ Linckoln's 'Leon" is a nightmare of a song with a clap drum insistent until the end. Lasariage continues this darker path with a 60's campaign election sample, and I guess I should know better who it is, but couldn't quite place the speaker, that keeps the listener winding towards the end. And then it all ends with "Serenade" (hidden track), by Vortex Rikers, and if it really is a hidden track I'm glad it was found because it's one of my favorites on here and finalizes what is one of the strongest compilations I've heard this year, thus far. Up there with "Pop Ambient 2012", though far different in styles and tone. I'm going to keep my eye on many of the bands on here. And, I would like to add that the cover artwork is just fantastic, looking like an homage to Picasso as if done by Clive Barker. Highly recommended!

- Michael Fierce

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dark Side of Pop Compilation featuring Port Royal, Sleep Party People, Saskatchewan, Electric Fitness and The Swerve

We here at Musica Phenomena have been on a short hiatus for the holidays but we're back and have a plethora of amazing music and music related reviews, articles and podcasts to bring you in 2012, so stay tuned.

We're going to start the year off right by bringing you a free download of an absolutely amazing new indie electronic compilation called "Dark Side of Pop" which features some "A" lister up and coming indie electronic artists from around the world that you absolutely have to hear. This excellent compilation is the work of a small label out of Poland called Cowshed records and judging from this release this is a label worth watching. The first 200 people can download this release for FREE with the link below, after that the compilation becomes 1 euro or about $1.32 US. Still an amazing deal for this 18 song album. We'll be posting a full review of the compilation coming soon but we felt we needed to get this link to you right away. Enjoy!

- M Pereira

Dark Side of Pop - Free Download