Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (12/05/16).
Being on the cusp of change, on the brink of no return that is burgeoning adulthood, it is tempting to latch tooth-and-nail onto the vestiges of your adolescence to avoid the discomfort of growing up. Formed in their college days in an autumn bunk up in their university dorms, MUNA is, first and foremost, a sisterly bonding experience between three friends who are in the middle of crossing that void, with a detour via heartache. Except where many of us left that experience at bitching over pizza and singing Fleetwood Mac songs into our hairbrushes, the trio – namely, Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson – picked up their journals and synths and put our own sanctimonious wallowing to shame.
In this manner, the journey through their debut EP Loudspeaker is akin to flicking through the pages of your sister’s diary; you know that you shouldn’t, but its impulsive reading, so yes – just one more page, and you’ll tuck it back under the mattress like the good sibling you are. It is a confessional compilation of pop songs; you can relate to the pangs of longing and hesitation when your object of desire looks that hot in that shirt, until you remember how much of a douchebag they were when they said that thing the other day, and – in your defiance – you come to the conclusion that they’re really not worth it.
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Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (24/10/14).
Hot on the heels of the sensual FKA Twigs, the haunting sound of BANKS and the unabashed Y2K of LIZ, comes Celeste; another contributor to the recent R’n’B revival. The Texan native, who now calls Brooklyn her home, makes music that is the perfect amalgamation of throwback and contemporary; think punchy beats and bubbling bass lines overlaid with vocal attitude, all of which are crammed into her debut EP, More Please.
‘Why I Write’ is the perfect example, showcasing sharp lyrics and a rapid-fire delivery. In a similar vein, ‘More Lives’ accentuates Celeste’s southern twang, confidently reminiscing about her musical journey to the present and manifesting a variety of nicely contrasting vocal abilities in the process, whilst the brash, skittish and bass heavy ‘Classic’ has the properties of its name branded all over it.
Being able to call Ghostface Killah and Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan fans of your music is no mean feat, and it is perhaps the dexterity of both the Brooklyn songstress’ performance and songwriting that draws an audience in. Though obviously influenced by hip hop, there are, at times, a soul undertone when the New Yorker chooses to let her voice reign free and allows her voice to scale surprising heights along the course of the record.
As clearly implied in the title of the EP, Celeste is searching for more, and if the understated, confident bounce of this four track effort is anything to go by, her craving will be satisfied far sooner than anticipated. Devour with gluttonous relish.
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Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (15/09/14).
A quick Google of the words ‘Heidemann’ and ‘singer’ leaves you with information and images of a talented and striking vocalist. It is important to note, however, it is Karmin singer Amy Heidemann who is more likely to appear in your search results. Whilst the lovely Amy is, no doubt a talent, in this instance, she is not the Heidemann we require. The woman of our quest (after much traipsing around in cyberspace) is the mysterious musician Monika Heidemann; an electro-pop pixie with a love of leopard print and an unabashed penchant for the 1980′s.
Heidemann has fled from former electro project Xylos in order to take full control of her debut solo effort, Orphan. The EP, co-produced by Sal Principato of LIQUID LIQUID and Jim Orso (formerly of Holy Ghost!) takes the listener on a time travelling escapade to the 1980′s over four delectable musical nuggets. In tracks such as ‘Another Life’, the New Yorker combines lush electronica with deliciously exotic beats to create something that sounds authentic to its time of influence whilst sounding relevant today. Rippling synths are intensified by a resolute, voltaic wobble before giving way to a spoken segment that emulates a young Madonna.
Elsewhere, the Brooklyn songstress showcases her vocal prowess in the frantic energy of ‘Well Well’; her strong, tuneful voice ricocheting between whispers and howls, whilst a cover of ABBA’s ‘The Visitors’ furthers the sense of nostalgia. Despite this delightful display, it is ‘Swords’ that shines brightest. With its stomping beat, ascending synth refrain and addictive pop hook “I could love you into the ground”, it is definitely a track that propels Heidemann forward as an artist to listen out for.
Given Monika’s current status as a hidden entity who manages to subvert the power of Google, the release of Orphan shows real promise of breaking through that veil and grabbing herself some exposure as an underground solo artist. Whilst the record is by no means challenging or experimental, it is a fun offering of ’80s infused pop. With electronica continually on the up, now is the time to make a mark on this field and this Brooklyn lady has made quite the impression.
Originally published and still available on CLAMOUR (07/09/14).
As is the curse of many a musician bred on the southern hemisphere, the quest for international recognition is often one comprised of potential, a dash of luck, and a fair bit of hustling. In the case of Australian duo Antonio Paul – with the hustle already grafted and their potential in hand – all they have left to cash in is their luck.
With a firm following in their homeland and a storm brewing in the U.S, it is the turn of the UK to soak in their brand of eclectic indie-pop. Over the course of five songs, the duo – comprised of Marc Antonio and Michael Paul – shift from prospective chart hits to left-field pop; whilst the likes of ‘Ariel’ and ‘Made In China’ may be a tad too pop-punk for some, tracks such as the youthfully anthemic ‘Trash Party’ (complete with spoken word) and the glitchy and mellow social commentary of ‘Coloured Screens’ could easily morph (ironically) into a TV show soundtrack of the near future.
However, in listening it is quite clear that the nucleus of this collection is the EP’s title track, ‘Modern Daze’. Mixing understated dub, echoey vocals with a rumbling bassline, Antonio Paul have crafted a deliciously smooth and addictive slice of subtle and sophisticated pop, that succeeds in paying homage to their earlier work whilst pushing their sound forward into a more mature and individual direction. As a song, ‘Modern Daze’ is what marks Antonio Paul as an exciting find, and pins them down as what could possibly be a sign of pop to come.