In my last PROMISING POP feature, I introduced you to 3 of my favorite new finds – Kiiara, Fletcher and Elohim. In an effort to keep the tradition going, I’ve found 4 more promising acts worth a listen (or 3). THIS edition of PROMISING POP is chock-full of the kind of dreamy synthpop that I live for. First up—LA-based duo, NÉONHÈART.
NÉONHÈART is an exciting new duo based out of Los Angeles. Their debut EP, Awakening is a starburst of soul-tingly synthpop. NÉONHÈART is made up of Canadian singer/songwriter Christina O’Connor and Chinese songwriter/producer HAOO, and while neither artist comes from an electropop background (O’Connor – Folk; HAOO – “heavy Alt Rock”), the music they’re making together is truly magical. For me, the standout track on their debut 4-track EP entitled ‘AWAKENING,’ is the very first track, a STUNNING electro-ballad called “Comatose.” Starting off with some muffled-sounding piano, O’Connor’s ethereal vocals float effortlessly over HAOO’s shimmery production. While the use of vocal effects in electronic music can be over-done, the results here sound otherworldly (in a good way). According to the press release, the four tracks on the EP each have their own sound, but work together as a “collection of the band’s journey to find their unique sound.” Watch the video for “Comatose” below and be sure and check out the EP streaming over on Blackbook‘s website now (or on the band’s SoundCloud page).
Next up is another LA-based duo by the name of KOLAJ, featuring the musical synergy of singer/songwriter Teesa (Dr. Luke, Kaskade) and producer Mighty Mike. On their first single, “The Touch,” I was hooked by the melody and Teesa‘s soft, sweet vocal. When the song starts, you really don’t know where it’s going (genre-wise) but you don’t really care because you’re hypnotized. “The Touch” quickly shifts from a guitar-driven singer/songwriter vibe to a rhythmic dancefloor stunner, thanks to the song’s seamless production and Teesa‘s voice gliding through that transition completely unfazed. While her vocals on the song’s verses impart that familiar folk-pop sensibility, by the time she hits the chorus, it’s turned into all-out shimmery club anthem. What I like about KOLAJ is the fact that they consider themselves an actual band. Not solely dependent on drum machines and synthesizers, the duo performs as a full live band, complete with guitar pedals, drums, and live keyboards. Amazing. Listen to “The Touch” below and stay tuned for more music from KOLAJ.
As soon as I heard this new track from DORJ, I knew I had to spotlight this guy on the blog. The song, “Don’t Care” is the first release off his forthcoming EP, entitled ‘FORGETMOVEONDONTCARE,’ due out later this year. With a voice that recalls a sort of Jack Garratt/Olly Alexander (Years & Years‘ frontman) hybrid, “Don’t Care” effortlessly blends Soul and Alt R&B over a lush electronic soundscape, with Dorj‘s smooth falsetto wrapping around the pulsating heartbeat of the song’s production.
Dorj (Real name For Tugeman) learned to play instruments, including the guitar and piano, at the age of 9. Growing up in a small town called Emek Hefer on the Israeli coastline, his grandfather, a once famous singer in Morocco, taught him how to sing. Classically trained at the music academy of Tel Aviv, Dorj fine tuned his artistry in his twenties, experimenting with everything from classical composition to jazz improvisation. Never forgetting the power and importance of strong lyricism, Dorj incorporated that into his craft as well, citing as influences, everyone from Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan to 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Kendrick Lamar and other contemporaries. He co-produced his forthcoming 3-track EP, ‘FORGETMOVEONDONTCARE‘ alongside New York-based producer Ido Freedman, which he describes as a “trilogy which explores the same story told from three different perspectives,” all drawing from a past relationship. With a recent performance at the Notting Hill Arts Club in London, it sounds like Dorj is making the rounds and playing more live gigs. Here’s hoping he makes his way back to New York City sometime soon. Listen to “Don’t Care” below.
Generally-speaking, I take my Swedish synth-pop with a female vocalist (Erik Hassle being the exception, of course) however I’m making an exception in the case of new producer duo, CANVAS. On their debut single “You & Me,” (featuring Filip Strand on vocals) brothers Andreas and Robin Schulz (not to be confused with German DJ/producer Robin Schulz) have turned out a delicate and soulful bit of electronic pop. Use of the word “delicate” is a bit surprising here, considering their “background in hardcore bands, sneakers and skateboards” (according the press release). I suppose “You & Me” could be classified as “sad dance music” (SORRY Tourist). The shimmering electronic production remains consistently low key throughout, allowing the soulfulness of the vocal to really come through and take center stage. The press release describes CANVAS as “an electronic and soulful project, with a sense of Scandinavian melancholy spread across every beat,” a description which beautifully encompasses this song’s vibe. Before “You & Me,” CANVAS was making waves, thanks to a number of popular bootleg remixes for Seinabo Sey and Shura, as well as some official remixes for Jessie Ware‘s 50 Shades of Gray contribution (“Meet Me In The Middle“) and Andreas Moe (“Borderline“).