SOMEHOW – Single Review: “Shut Your Eyes and See”

Somehow

I’ve been revisiting a lot of artists and bands that I’ve previously featured on this blog, as so many of them are putting out new music and wanting my thoughts on it. The latest is by Somehow, the indie-pop project of Erwan Pépiot, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Paris, France. His pleasing sound hovers somewhere between Joy Division and Belle & Sebastian, with a vocal styling reminiscent of Morrissey or Ian Curtis. He writes, performs, records, produces and mixes all his music in his own home studio, with his only assistance coming from his long-time collaborator Aurélie Tremblay, who provides backing vocals and some fine cello work.

Somehow released his debut album The Desert of Wasted Time in 2016, receiving many positive reviews. This was followed a year later by his beautiful album Hidden Memories, released via Toolong Records, which also earned wide acclaim both in Europe and the U.S. In October 2017 I reviewed “Someday”, one of the wonderful tracks from that album. He now returns with a terrific new song, “Shut Your Eyes and See” the first single from his forthcoming album Low Tide, due for release this coming October.

It’s another enchanting track, featuring Somehow’s signature rich, multi-instrumental stew that gives his songs their incredibly sublime soundscapes. A beautifully-strummed bass line provides a splendid foundation for the song, over which are layered some lovely guitar, keyboards, melodica, cello and gentle percussion. Erwan’s vibrant vocals are as pleasing as his music, singing the verses with a comforting urgency while Aurélie provides delightful backing harmonies.

The lyrics seem somewhat ambiguous, but I think they’re about someone who’s breaking out from under self-doubt that’s plagued them, allowing them to live their life to its full potential, yet still remaining insecure.

It seems you’re getting somewhere after all
You finally found your way out
Through your silent eyes
All things looked hollow
Now candles and stars
Sparkle in daylight

It seems you’re getting somewhere after all
You finally found your way out
At the sound of the horn
You’ll run away then die
Over and over
For a thousand times

You will speak
You will fly
You will speed up the tide
You’ll be lauded and praised by hundreds of strangers

Hide from yourself
Shut your eyes and see

The charming video shows a young man, skateboard in tow, flying to London to see a young woman who’s an old friend or girlfriend. They then set off on a sightseeing adventure, taking in both the beautiful and not-so-beautiful kaleidoscope of life in the teeming city on the Thames. The video was produced by Julien Bengel, and stars Paco and Marina as the young couple.

Connect with Somehow:  Facebook / Twitter
Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp / Google Play

HOUSE OF HARM – EP Review: “Coming of Age”

house of harm ep

It may be 2019, but the lasting legacy of 1980s post-punk and new wave (and all its sub genres) is very much alive and well, probably due in part to the fact it sounds so awesome! I know of several artists and bands whose sound is heavily influenced by the electronics-dominant music of bands like New Order, The Cure and Depeche Mode, to name some of the biggest acts from that period. One such band that I have the pleasure of featuring today is House of Harm, a duo from Boston consisting of Michael Rocheford on lead vocals & Cooper Leardi on guitar and synths. With just a casual listen, they could be unfairly labeled a New Order or Depeche Mode cover band, but a closer listen reveals the guys to be skilled songwriters and composers, crafting outstanding songs that easily hold their own against the aforementioned bands.

House of Harm released their excellent debut EP Demo in June 2017, followed later that year with a darkwave single “Isolator”, and in November 2018, they dropped their second EP Coming of Age, featuring four gorgeous tracks. First up is “Past Life“, a brooding but beautiful song that really channels Depeche Mode both instrumentally and vocally. The guys employ lush swirling synths, razor sharp percussion, and layers of richly textured, chiming guitars to create a magnificent shimmering soundscape.  Rocheford’s arresting vocals convey a sense of urgency and sad resignation as he laments “Let the past lay down tonight, I want it to, I want it to. Let the summer light catch your eyes. There’s someone new, someone new“.

About the track’s meaning, Rocheford told the webzine Vanyaland “The song is about spending time with someone you were formerly involved with and the struggles that come along with that.” Leardi added his feelings about the song: “‘Past Life’ was one of those songs that came to us like a lightbulb flash. All the elements were there. We were coming down from playing a string of shows, completely exhausted, and in one afternoon we wrote and recorded the whole song. It felt wrong to go back and change the magic we got that day, so the version you hear is just that. I can’t deny that there was a certain flavor in the air when we were working on it, something that reminds me of an ecstasy-fueled club in Ibiza or something… I think it puts us in a place and time, and that time is right now. I feel as though the song is there to say ‘We’re House Of Harm and this is what we’re about’.”

Always” is an updated version of a track that originally appeared on Demo. Leardi’s exuberant jangly guitars are the highlight here, accompanied by sparkling synths and wildly crashing cymbals. Rocheford fervently sings “You always keep it still. You always speak until. You always turn it around and smile in pain.” The marvelous title track “Coming of Age” features a powerful driving beat and a deeply resonant mix of swirling and moody synths that create a dramatic backdrop for Rocheford’s impassioned, soaring vocals as he implores to a former loved one: “And would you still run at the sight of me? And do you still you feel that you’ve thrown it away? And would you still lie, if I ever told you? And would you still say it’s a coming of age?” “Valentine” sounds a bit similar to “Coming of Age”, but with a frenetic beat that’s classic post-punk/new wave. If this bouncy, high-energy song doesn’t get you up and moving, nothing will.

Coming of Age is a wonderful little EP, and if you’re a fan of 80s post-punk/new wave, you’ll like this record. The arrangement and production are flawless, and the music and vocals sound clear and perfectly balanced. My only criticism is that with just four tracks, it feels rather like a teaser, leaving me wanting more. Perhaps that’s a good thing, as I eagerly await what House of Harm will grace our earbuds with next.

Connect with House of Harm:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

ANTIPOLE – Album Review: “Northern Flux”

Antipole Album Cover

Antipole is a coldwave/post-punk project from Trondheim, Norway, and the second act from Norway that I’ve featured on this blog (the first being Sherpa, who I featured in July 2016). They just dropped their first full length album Northern Flux. Released through  Unknown Pleasures Records, the ambitious new album contains 14 tracks, including five remastered songs originally featured on their previous EP Getting Frequent Now.

Essentially a solo project of songwriter/guitarist Karl Morten Dahl, Antipole was formed in early 2014, after Karl met Anne-Christel. He had previously written songs and been in other bands, but was inspired by Anne-Christel to write and record more music on his own in an early 80s new wave and post-punk style. In 2014, Antipole released a debut digital-only EP Panoply. Songs for AC, that featured eight instrumental tracks. This was followed with a second EP Getting Frequent Now in early 2017.

The songs on Northern Flux were written by Karl in collaboration with Paris Alexander and Eirene, both of whom are from Brighton, UK, and also provided ethereal vocals for all the tracks. The album was recorded at Lysverkvegen in Trondheim, Norway, and Blue Door Studio in Brighton,UK, and produced, mixed and mastered by Paris.

In an interview with Jeff Haight of the web magazine Overblown (which you can read here), Karl describes Antipole and some of the influences on their sound:

“I’m trying to create addictive, melancholic coldwave/post-punk. When I started Antipole in early 2014 the idea was to write melodies and record them in a way that they sounded like a post-punk band recording from 1982. I started recording songs again after I met Anne-Christel. She’s heavily into obscure post-punk old and new, and listening to that inspired me a lot. Obvious influences were and are New Order, Joy Division and The Cure. Not as obvious influences would be The Chameleons, The Sound and also newer bands like The KBV, Motorama and Mode Moderne. Whether the influences can be heard or not I’m not the one to decide. “Disintegration” by The Cure has been kind of a gold template to me. Very sad and emotional music, yet so beautiful. The songs have gotten more electronic after I started collaborating with Paris Alexander. He has also contributed a lot to song ideas/arrangements/writing and of course vocals plus writing his lyrics. Lately Eirene has also contributed a lot.”

Beginning with album opener “October Novel,” the strong influences of  Joy Division and The Cure can clearly be heard in Antipole’s mesmerizing sound. Hypnotic dance beats, jangly guitar-driven melodies and dreamy synth chords are the distinctive elements of their music.  Paris’ and Eirene’s distant, almost chant-like vocals are strangely seductive, lending an otherworldly feel to most tracks. Each track flows effortlessly into the next, allowing the listener to become swept away by the spellbinding rhythmic beats.

A standout track is “Shadow Lover,” with it’s powerful, throbbing bass line and intricate, jangly guitar work. With a hint of menace in his breathy vocals, Paris sings “You see through me. And I want you. I still want you. Yes I want you.”

Another of my favorites is the captivating 8 1/2 minute-long “Narcissus.” A pulsating beat drives the track forward as mysterious synths and a constant jangly guitar riff play off each other, gradually building in intensity as the song progresses. Paris hauntingly chants “I see you.

Track listing:

1.  October Novel
2.  Shadow Lover
3.  Dans l’entrée
4.  Summer Never Ends
5.  Reflected in You
6.  Magnolia Skies
7.  All Alone
8.  Le Châtelet
9.  Someday 45
10. Narcissus
11. Distant Fall
12. Closer
13. Please Let Me Sleep
14. Insight (Joy Division Cover)

Connect with Antipole:  Facebook / Twitter
Stream their music:  Spotify
Purchase:  Bandcamp