Week in Pop: Ed Askew, José Díaz Rohena, LUKA, Midnight Opera

Sjimon Gompers

The prolific José Díaz Rohena steps out from behind the mixing board to showcase new material; photographed by Sarah Macreading.

Week in Pop

Hélène Barbier & the super-group PHERN; photographed by Tessa Smith.

Montreal’s Hélène Barbier of Moss Lime/PHERN shared the single “Wide”, the closing number featured off the solo work Something. Minimalist electric chords collect in loops with sporadic high note surprises that makes for a minimalist, artistic outing where the economic delivery leaves the audience wondering what wonders Barbier might be working on next. The opener “You do not see too far” deals with the lack of perception found in others, as “Cold” moves through dissonant discord to paint wintry portraits, to the I can’t take you seriously mantra of “Really”, or the youthful conjectures of “Kids”, to thoughts of trainers on “Old Shoes”, to the chronological tick of the clock of “In Time”, to the reflective “Last Year”, or the wonder stream of thoughts heard on “Pici”. Dadaist pop fans everywhere rejoice.

Introducing the latest PNW scuzz threat Feed, comprised of members from previous groups like Rose Windows (Sub Pop), Help Yourself Records boss Matt Kolhede & Ubu Roi (also of Help Yourself), who bring the pleasure & the pain of “Different Life” that rages, rocks & rolls with a life that is all unto it’s own. Taken off of Feed’s forthcoming self-titled debut album available November 17 via the venerable DIY upstart imprint Help Yourself Records; the doldrums of winter days suddenly feel a little warmer & brighter as Feed seeks to satisfy with provisions of graciously noisy pop that makes loud rock music massive once again.

Featured off Banny Grove’s recent Cars in Control 7″ EP via Nicey Music, enter the pop futuristic portal of enchantment of “Baby” via Peter Nichols’ visuals. Louise Chicoine, oka Banny acts out her auto-tuned pop gem that comprises a multimedia sophisti-lullaby where 2018 arrives early.

No Vacation announced the new mixtape EP Intermission available digitally November 17 & physically December 15 via Topshelf Records & offered up the following single previews. Circles will run wild about your mind on the mine fields of thoughts in the imperfect tense that are wrought on “Mind Fields” to the dream spinning flights of doves that soar with a disaffected & beautiful splendor on “Yam Yam”.

NYC rising artist P. Cruz, aka Paul Payabyab-Cruz dropped the beach bound Stephanie Cruz visuals for “Gobstop (Life)” featured off the forthcoming Letter to Miss Ives EP. Cruz shares anecdotes of hyper-realities expressed while being rolled by the ebb & flow of the sea’s rising & falling tides that exhibits dreams that are bigger & brighter than the confines of this mortal realm alone.

Meyhem Lauren & DJ Muggs presented us with the visuals for “Aquatic Violence” feat. Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire & Sean Price featured off the new album Gems From The Equinox (via Soul Assassins) where NYC’s boss ballers verse some visceral game with some bubbling underwater production. City scenes & scenarios straight from the Big Apple bring together a powerhouse of emcees & environmental elements that dish out tales of kingpins, princes & paupers along with the roles they all play amid their own shared ecosystem.

Introduce yourself to Oakland’s own Dingbat Superminx, the passionate labor of Aaron Baker with a little help from the Nicey Music crew on the production & backup end of things. Produced by Peter Nichols, with backup vocals by Louise Chicoine, sax by Luke Csehak, with percussion supplied by Alex Edgeworth; the hodge podge of our contemporary existence is transformed into a sophisticated lounge act operetta that is to be experienced in order to be understood. The action arrives with crooning calm of “Big Crush”, to the shutdown extravaganza of “The No Song”, the classic cornucopia conundrum on “My Concept”, freewheeling through the conceptual fracas of “Soft Labor Fantasy”, to the brass bombast of “Weeknight Art Show”, dishing out dialogues on the ditchers with “Flake City”, to the sleepy jump & jive of “Heavy Lids”, eschewing the inbox anxiety on “Over 10,000 Unread Emails” (that I know many of us can relate to), or the spaced out song of “Moon Rockin”, closing with “Pupper Pied Piper” that sounds like it could have been the sequel to Jay Som’s “1 Billion Dogs“. Keep an ear out for more from pop music’s rising enigma Dingbat Superminx.

From Hamilton, Ontario; we invite you to step into the world of Vector Research via the Nightcrawler EP that is certain to keep your Halloween hyped essences of perpetual evening humming via the electro ambient lenses. The title track immerses the listener into some sort of futuristic place at the controls of some convoluted machine/mainframe while “GOD$” mixes vocal samples & more field sourced sounds into the electronic fold where it feels as if at any given moment some sort of entity is bound to jump out from the speakers.

Introduing Rhode Island’s Jenn Vix who recently released the Unlocked EP that featurtes contributions from Psychedelic Furs’ John Ashton & Danny Chavis of The Veldt. Energies are experienced in waves of resurgence on “Alive Again”, to exploring the intricacies of elusive individuals on “Complicated Man”, to the electro maudlin moods of “Nerve”, as Danny Chavis spins “Complicated Man” into the dream dimension of the “Into the Veldt remix”, before the electrifying EP exit heard on the eponymous “Unlocked” closer.

Seattle’s own Symbion Project offered a 360 view via the Avielle Heath & Micah Knapp video for “Bloodthirsty” ft. Markus Junnikkala featured off the album Arcadian. Providing a multi-viewed perspective courtesy of cinematographer Laura James; the audience gets the vantage view of being on-stage with Soroa Lear & Anna Thornton as their dramatic motions under the stage lights can be witnessed in time to the SP’s own dramatic arrangement & execution.

Kelela delivered the minimalist & sensual Helmi visuals for “Blue Light” featured off of Take Me Apart. Kelela is seen in a world of blue while her hair grows as a form of natural cover like an updated & more modern version of the Rapunzel tale.

DRÆMINGS delivered a listen to their new single that recalls a certain pivotal shoegaze album with the dream driven luster of “Loveless”. Following on the heels of their PLAG Records self-titled, DRÆMINGS break through the disconnected veil of over-connectivity that obfuscates genuine interaction in the name of apathetic complacency that our over-involved world of mobile devices and more offer as substitute for true human exchanges. Kimi Recor described the inspirations behind the new single with the following reflections:

We live in a world where we’re always connected, to our phones, to social media, to email, to work, and we can have almost anything we want with the touch of a button. Despite that, everyone is fiercely lonely. I do think that loneliness is the human condition, but it seems that the more connected we are, the less connected we are. “Loveless” explores that loneliness and its allure to alien beings drawn to the human race by their sadness and isolation. I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix documentaries about aliens lately and wonder what we must look like to them, so the song is about that.

Ella Vos brought the world an evocative bouquet of affections heard on “I Know You Care” featured off the debut album Words I Never Said available November 17. The exchanges between kindred hearts relay in chamber pop song like melodic whispers shared on the phone in the middle of the night where reiterations of connections are expressed in earnest.

Introducing Garth. who delivers the earnest & humanist single “Human Nature” co-produced by Mike Irish, featuring visuals from SRĐA, Bennett Taren & Hoodwill Gunting, Cole Bates-Norum. Intimate expressions about exchanges, calls, responses with all the involved back & forth play out in terms of dance & sincere song that illustrate our own humanism as something of an intrinsic, natural aesthetic of the highest order.

The Dayoffs, Vladimir Komarov & Atsuo Matsumoto shared the vintage ski-trip film visuals for “Next to Nothing” off their State of Madness album. The thrill of underground throwback pop that emphasizes the aspects of utterly elated audio arrangements takes flight like outdoor sporting enthusiasts on the advanced jumps out on the snowy slopes.

LA’s Naomi Greene presented us with the chamber pop serenity & solemnity of the new single “Laura”. Recorded at Hotel Earth, courtesy of Theo Karon, mixed by Sonny Diperri & mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Records; Naomi’s rustic strung song of earnest observances are accompanied by additional vocals from Clara Cappagli (from Agar Agar), Ben Finley & Nick Hon. Contemporary pastorals flock outward to the fields of new-founded graces & hopes for a calm of the spirit, body & mind.

Lulu Lewis, comprised of Dylan Hundley, Pablo Martin, Jay Mumford, Sergio Rotman & Julius Solo presented the single “One Note Rock n Roll” that eschews the three-chord fixations for something more minimalist & instantly appealing to the ears. Vintage sonic sustains find Dylan & company bringing the fist-clenched punch & presence with a host of classic meets contemporary brash bravado with brass & psyched-out electric organs just for the occasion.

Tombstones In Their Eyes delivered the new sky-staring single “Shutting Down” courtesy of Send Me Your Head Records that examines the urges to close down all available facilities of listening & expression. The feelings & moods of the moment are elevated upward with atmospheric elements that explores the inward workings of complicated feelings, responses & the lack thereof.

L.A. Salami presented the contemporary folk song of international adversaries & quagmires via the Ola Szmida animated visuals for “Terrorism (The Isis Crisis)”. The antagonism & apathy from the international community explores the cycles of aggression, violence & bellicose pratfalls of reactionary policies that illustrate the almost unstoppable circles of self-defeating measure & their corresponding counter measures.

From Helium Castle Pictures, witness the visuals for Honey Harper’s “Pharaoh” featured off the release Universal Country available now via Arbutus that offers an intimate view of the elusive artist in performance & reflection. Those Nashville Skyline feels emerge from the stage to the city sidewalks as Honey Harper takes their twang out for an introspective walk where feeling can be found in every tear-jerking chord & harmonic utterance that might never fully leave the confines of our own expanding, collective consciousnesses.

Alyeska delivered a listen to the Crush EP b-side “Stones” that sports production from John Agnello with a wealth of electrified energy & blazing chords. From wild drum fills & even wilder guitars; Alyeska enters the undertow depths off feelings & sonic fancies that roar with the speed of sound & light.

Ghostpoet delivered the Savannah Setten video for “Woe Is Meee” featured off the recent album Dark Days + Canapés available via Play It Again Sam. A world weary protagonist is seen as the visual’s subject that tackles the inner woes of apprehension & hesitation that battles the bottle & smokes in a sinewy sortie of surreal motel encounters involving a host of dubious agents & suspicious liaisons.

From the album Heiress available now through AllPoints; take in the Jorik Dozy & Sil van der Woerd video for Novo Amor & Ed Tullett’s “Terraform” that offers a view of the treacherous conditions of the Ijen, Indonesia sulphur mines. The video feature shows the struggles & intense severity as miners risk everything for their families in the hopes of a better tomorrow as the song’s emotive elements & frequencies underscore the visuals to heart wrenching effect. Lacey & Tullett are donating portions of proceeds to a charity in efforts to help the children of sulfur porters find a better & safer way of living beyond the mines.

Alexx Mack takes listeners for a long late night drive deep into blinds of the void on “Your Car” ft. EXES that ranks in that special status of songs that emulates what those neon utility light streaked journeys feel like. The emotions & moods conveyed via Maxk & EXES employ those aspects of deeply held anxieties that flutter like butterflies in the head & belly where the psychosomatic intersections of the mental & physiological crash into one another along the desolate stretches of the lost highway.

Portland’s own The Hague just dropped the new 7″ full of clever chords & expressive scuzz that wears emotions & hearts proudly sleeve-wise. Opening with the a-side “Bear”, clusters of progressions rise up & down through grizzly heights & bristled lows that is followed by “Globes” on the flip-side that features more mathematical arrangements where the audience remains unsure & surprised at the variety of directions & surprises that the PDX group offers with every twist & turn along the way.

Supporting the Cribs on tour this December, Canshaker Pi brought us their new single “Pressure From Above” that brings in an economic sort of power pop courtesy of RIP RecordsIntroduces Series. The Dutch group takes their slacker pop inspirations forward into the foray of the world with some of the catchiest guitar tones & progressions you might hear all winter. Willem Smit from the band introduced their incredible new single with the following reflections:

“Pressure From Above” embodies the loneliness of being in large groups of people at night. Staying in bars too long on a daily basis resulting in a feeling of progresslessness.

Charleston, South Carolina’s Brave Baby brought the Paul Chelmis visuals for “Soothsayer” that dotes & dwells upon future events through some of the most chill arrangements around. Moving past the doubt & the television glow, BB brings items of interest for meditation that will make the complications & conundrums of life feel a little softer & smoother around the otherwise sharp edges.

LA’s own The Cabin Fever shared the title track from their new EP with “Exercise the Demon” that casts emotive observations in the swing & sway of maudlin chords. Accentuating the cabin essence that arrives hand in hand with the concept of cabin fever itself, the feeling of hunkering down for the long winter can definitely be felt in the following listen to this moving, nearly seven minute vignette.

Gingerlys makes the best of the low laying moments in life with “Let Down” found off their upcoming self-titled available November 17 through Topshelf Records/Babe City Records. The Brooklyn group of Jackie Mendoza, Matt Richards, Colin O’Neill, Kevin Doxsey & Brian Alvarez bring about some of the brightest key & chord temperaments that makes the motions of melancholy feel, if but only for a time, lighter than a feather floating in the air.

Xenoula provided a view to the futuristic pagan winter glam seen in Sam Dust video for “Luna Man” featured off the self-titled available November 24 from Weird World. Nature wanderings are seen & felt in the punctuated rhythm arrangements as our heroine finds themself lost at sea with an overturned forest-made raft & a mystical wealth of unanswered inquiries.

Adam Prince King celebrated the release of the new EP with a look at the Vasilisa Forbes video for “Witches” full of forest enchantment & a plethora of odd rituals. Strange occurrences of the occult & surreal materialize in an assembly of outcasts & otherworldly entities behaving as bizarre as they possibly can.

Take in the visuals for “Odyssey” from The Accidentals, taken off their album of the same name that provides some serene folk sensibilities to assuage the collective barrage of overwhelming fears & obstacles that consume our daily lives.

Roxiny brought the synth-studded atmospheres that ghost, waft & gently wave in the evening breeze on “The Lights”. Images of the moon’s reflective face & the city lights & their flicker & burn that pierce through the night’s veil can be felt on a single that shines with Roxiny’s delivery that breaks through the Jonathan Kreinick produced ambiance.

Aly & AJ offered up a listen to the new synth/vocal pop single “I Know” featured off the forthcoming Ten Years EP available November 17. The duo of A & A make music that will inspire morning dance routines, calisthenic regiments & cardio-choreographic moves that will make the new day easier to face up to.

Montréal, Québec’s Technical Kidman return today with their new album Bend Everything and we bring you the big new single “Mercedes”. Over-turning the tables of consumerism & other such trivial conceits; abrasive distortion & cathartic rhythms are poised to shake your entire spirit, mind & body to the core.

Bristol’s Emily Magpie provided a listen to the new single “Leave It To Fate” that brings about a botanical bundle of chamber pop elegance. Thoughts of destiny & reflections of grace & learned songs of experience & innocence collide like intermingling fireflies illuminating the night’s lonely starless skies.

Portland, Oregon’s rising artist S!ege offered an electro dose to counter the work-week blahs with “Tuesday Blues”. The expanses of distances & proximity to others are embraced with a manner of casting caution to the wind that welcomes the weird wonders of inviting dangers of the unknown. In S!ege’s own words:

I wrote “Tuesday Blues” in this weird head-space where I didn’t really wanna be with anyone and I didn’t really want to be in a good place mentally. I wanted to do things I knew I shouldn’t and spend time with people I knew would hurt me.

Shy Beast delivered the Brittany Reeber visuals for “Back With Me” featured off the upcoming self-titled EP available November 17 that presents the arrivals, returns & departures of others in our lives with an array of coordinated dance moves. Inner reckoning rolls about with reflections on the trials & tribulations of amour’s ups & downs, ins & outs that we can all relate to in one way or another. According to bandleader Mariclaire (MC) Glaeser about the new video & single:

The video “Back with Me” uses movement, replacement, color, and light, to explore a woman’s transition from the feeling of being trapped in an apologetic spiral, to a deepening trust and confidence in herself.

Twin Ritual delivered the visuals for “Angry” courtesy of Alonso Bell & Erina Furukawa that couples rage with throwback a/v effects. The San Diego group crashes through the comforts of complacency with an electrified aesthetic that the entire universe can shake a leg to in unison.

Future Fathers, the duo of Trent Dabbs & Cason Cooley, present a listen & viewing for their debut single “False Information” that wanders wistfully like a tranquil sunny & sublime day. The Nashville duo brings all those latent spring, early summer vibes where every synth string, rhythmic beat & harmonic vocal utterance sparks with an ineffable energy that feels like an infinite entrance to a thousand wonderful days that await the ear, eye & mind of the beholder.

Embrace the electro pop energy of “Can You Hear The Echo?” from Victoria Celestine where energetic rhythms run wildly with a sense of realized freedom that won’t be contained for anything.

Ten Fé’s Rob, Johnny, Alex, Ben & Leo are back with the track “Single, No Return” ahead of their London gig November 23 at Dingwalls that delivers their most sophisticated jam to date. The movements & measures of relationships that arrive & leave are recalled in the reflective narrative of the temporal state of life, it’s time, passages & subsequent passings of people & more that can be sometimes outside of our understanding.

Those looking for some chamber pop to keep yourself company during the indoor days of winter, listen & look no further than Willie Breeding single “Prague Spring” ft. Caitlin Rose that works in pop baroque manners of European observations of time, life, wars, ways & cycles that spell out the strange stories of our world.

The alpha & omega of the best bonds, illustrating the beginning & the break are exalted on Fox in Oil’s big pop single “Rise and Fall” that brings the big FM pop production portrayal of the good & the bad & the surrender that occurs in the yin & yang of relationships.

Brooklyn’s QWAM dropped the rhythm rolling & rollicking single “Dogggie Door” featured off their debut EP Feed Me available this January. From frenetic fretted fun & blistering guitars & an arrangement predicated upon the percussive production; QWAM has the panacea to wake you up from your sleepy-eyed morning slumbers.

Brooklyn’s Native Sun brought the skronk rocking single “I Don’t Mind” featured off their debut EP Songs Born From Love and Hate available November 17 through PaperCup Music. The track rages with an energy that our lethargic selves long for as we slog through the work weeks of thankless mornings & elongated afternoons where the aural thrill of elated pop often feels out of our immediate reach. So thank you, Native Sun.

Playing tonight at NYC’s Union Pool, Frenchkiss Records’ new signees Strange Names dropped the single “Into Me”. The Minneapolis by way of NYC group weaves a brilliantly spectacular pop tune that will instantly have you feeling loverly sentiments like a flock of doves taking flight for upper echelons of enlightenment that are uplifting beyond words.

Introducing Bryde with the single “Desire” that operates through the pros & cons of our passions. The overwhelming sentiments surrounding the song’s namesake play out with a ferocity that rolls & pushes toward the point of breaking in a visceral manner that resounds with the resolve of the unbreakable devotion of the human spirit.

FKL presented the glamorous & stoic Jacob Rosen video for “Violence” featured off the Out Of Tune album available today. The ensemble of Sage Redman, Raya Leary, Sophie Messing, Anna Kasabyan & Amanda Ochoa exhibits a strong presence that pushes past the aggression for greater, constructive emotive & enlightened avenues.

Lauren Ruth Ward shared the passionate pop piece “Did I Offend You?” that delivers a gradual rising ballad that questions the actions, causes & effects & how others respond to them that are sometimes outside of our own consciousness & comforts.

From Northern Italy with love; introduce yourselves to Bee Bee Sea & their rip-roaring new single “Sonic Boomerang” that will jolt you out of your office chair. Taken off their second album of the same name available November 17 through Dirty Water Records/Wild Honey Records, get ready for some righteous riffs to bolster all that inspires & motivates you in the aural plane of existence.

Chicago’s chill crooning Paul Cherry delivered the lazy & hazy new single “Like Yesterday” featured off the upcoming 2018 slated album Flavour. All those low flying frequencies flow with a free feeling style that sails & swims through skies of azure hues like blue birds flying wing to wing.

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