Much of today’s musical release climate is permeated by a steady influx of gigantic marketing campaigns behind singles, the occasional EP, and everything in between. Sadly, the disappearance of countless independent labels over the past 15 or so years has left this writer’s favorite release format, the long player, as somewhat of a novelty and a major gamble for smaller artists not signed to a major. So when one of our favorite rising sons of synth; indie-pop architect, Lincoln Jesser, announced the impending release of a debut LP, Modern Color, we were all ears on deck. To see such quality and a clear conceptual path put forth into an album format in 2014 without the backing of at least some type of indie is refreshing to say the least. Bending a bevy of electronic pop buoyed with a slick indie sensibility has been the auditory bait for more than a few of us Ninjas, as Jesser has become a regular amongst the pages of TMN over the past year through singles like “We’ll Be Fine”, “Wicked Son”, “Untold” (both of which can be found on Modern Color), “After_Love” and he’s put together quite the diverse, but focused collection of tunes to create his debut album.
Kicking off with an atmospheric, saccharine slice of indie-pop on “We’ll Be Fine”, Modern Color quickly highlights its superlative attributes through its opening tune: hooky, modulated synth lines and Jesser’s penetrating incantations. While “We’ll Be Fine”, a pop song in pure form, paces the LP; much of Jesser’s musical perspective on this one comes in the form of slower burning fragments. Tracks like “Untold”, and “Supertouch” provide an insightful glimpse into Jesser’s more emotive musical outlook on which Modern Color’s most poignant moments take place. But without the LP’s poppy respites on cuts like “Tops” & “Certainty” -which both dip into club-house territory along a flowing four-four kick and minimal electro house vibrations- and “Wicked Son”; those moments don’t feel like they’d come across as impactful. Modern Color closes its doors on the heels of two previously unreleased tunes, “Rolling Stones” and “Time Apart”; and both are an incredible close to a very worthy debut entry into the album form from Lincoln Jesser.
Modern Color is out now digitally and can be purchased on the cheap through iTunes, and for such a well thought out LP inauguration, we think it’s completely worth the squeeze. Stream Lincoln Jesser’s Modern Color below in its entirety
Heaven Ain't High
“When I’m with you, heaven ain’t high…”
Just take those lyrics sink in for a minute…good right? You have this picture in your head immediately of that one person, we all have them, who makes heaven just seem that much closer. LittleShoesBigVoice have taken that notion and written a beautiful and sensual piece about the way one feels when that one special person is around. The London duo, consisting of Jack Durtnall and Emily Harvey, have quickly become one of my favorite groups to listen to. They both have strong and intimate voices that blend like honey and a beehive. Accompanied by different tones like drums, guitars, and electronic beats, these two spin a web of delicious music ecstasy. It really is true, after listening to these two, you realize just how close heaven really is to us all.
The boys from Newcastle have done it again. Lisbon released ‘Native’ off their debut EP ‘Life Is Good’ a few days ago, a catchy alt-pop piece that tells the story of taking chances and traveling into the unknown, finding yourself along the way. The boys blend all of their sounds together from the vocals to the guitars to the electronic melodies in such a fitting fashion. There is no way to turn this song on and not get up and dance, go ahead, try not to, I dare you.
Follow You Home
Somewhere in between Andrew Belle, Devendra Banhart, and Chris Martin you’ll find Yellowknife-born folk singer/songwriter Matt Millz. While Millz may be a little more grainy at times in comparison to Belle, a little less whimsical than Banhart, and a little less refined than Martin, he’s a voice that’s equally as encapsulating, ensuring that you get lost in only a moment’s time.
This friendly neighbor to the north is a well-versed multi-instrumentalist, which is not hard to pick up during a quick three and a half minute listen through his debut single, “Follow You Home.” With cascading vocal ranges carefully caressing the calculated fingerpicking of his acoustic guitar, this tune boasts nothing more than just that and subtle atmospheric elements which help give the song its earthy soundscape and enchanting progression.
It’s raw, emotional, and inspirational, leading the listener down a heart-tugging journey led by Millz’s refined, yet sometimes rugged vocals. Kudos to both Millz and Nygel Asselin, whom co-wrote and produced this endearing folk gem.
Alina Baraz & Galimatias
Oh man, these two are at it again with another incredibly sexy and seductive new song. For the past year, Alina Baraz and Galimatias have been wowing us with their musical style, a combination of Baraz’s overly delightful vocals mixed with Galimatias’ addicting electronic melodies. Their recent release ‘Fantasy’ takes each of us on a musical journey as this duo quietly overtakes our personal fantasies. You will get so high on this song because there is no other sensation to feel. These two have showed us they understand how to musically speak to anyone who listens to their music. Leaving all my worries behind, it’s time to dive into my fantasies with this beat carrying me all the way.
Are we really sure that Turtle Giant are from where they say they are? Supposedly from Sao Paulo, this Brazilian three-piece has me envisioning foggy-eyed, long-haired, and peace-loving hippies on the corner of Haight-Ashbury. All kidding aside, it’s hard not to get taken away to that classic era of music while listening to their latest release, premiered here on The Music Ninja.
While it may not be as laid back, or focused on lengthy improvisations as the aforementioned musical period, “Constellations” boasts a timeless, hazy sound that would make most of the greats smile, tap their foot, and nod their head in unanimous approval. The driving beat creates an engaging tempo, one which supports the near-bluesy guitar riffs, which come together in a memorable structure.
This outfit flaunts their musical prowess even moreso with the addition of a harpsichord in the bridge, building up to a eyebrow raising call-back chorus. The end result is something worthy of a classic rock radio station, mixed in between The Dead, Joplin and Hendrix. The best part is, these guys are still alive and kicking, ready to keep rolling out overwhelmingly memorable songs for the foreseeable future.
“Constellations” can be found on the upcoming album titled Golden Summer, due out later this year. Make sure you keep an eye out for it by liking their page on facebook.
Goodbye, Summer. Hello, everyone complaining about the cold ass weather. You have to admit though, there’s nothing quite like kicking back and cuddling up to a playlist full of heartwarming indie music. Sometimes, music sooths even the coldest of souls.
Undress Your Soul