Category Archives: dream pop

Ummagma

A few years back I featured Ummagma on the old blog. At that time I said this about them.

Ummagma is a Canadian-Ukrainian duo comprised of Alexx Kretov and Shauna McLarnon, blending the ethereal with sublime resonance, beats and rhythm to create richly layered soundscapes. In mid-July, Ummagma released two CD albums (“Ummagma” and “Antigravity”) and won the 2013 Alternative Eurovision, representing Ukraine from 21 countries. Although this music encompasses several music genres — indie rock, post-rock, dream pop, ambient/ethereal, space rock and progressive rock — there is a common remarkable theme, elevating atmosphere and stirring effect in Ummagma’s music.

Like so many independent artists they keep on moving on.

On the trail of their collaboration with dreampop pioneer A.R.Kane earlier this year, Ummagma has been turning a lot of heads in the last few years, winning praise from the likes of Joe Foster (Creation Records) and The Veldt, collaborating with members of OMD and Swervedriver, and winning the Alternative Eurovision on Amazing Radio. They also feature in Wire Magazine’s new Wire Tapper CD.

Recently they released an awesome re-mix of one of their gems. As with all their releases this is a soaring piece of music that will take you higher, complex yet simple it just moves you along with it.
Add to that a beautiful video and I just had to post this, their latest release.

Enjoy, I know I am.

Lama ~ Robin Guthrie Mix

And just for kicks, here’s the original version, love ’em both myself.  What say you?

Lama

 

📷 Oleksandra Kostiv

Lia Marie Johnson

Meet Lia Marie Johnson who hails from Wahiawa, Hawaii although she currently resides in Los Angeles. Lia Marie is a very talented singer / songwriter and also apparently very well-known on You Tube. She has acted in numerous film and television shows.
I have to acknowledge my friend Shahin who pointed me in the right direction towards this talented young lady.

But last year she got serious about the music biz, and was subsequently signed by Capitol Records.
Based on her first two singles for them “DNA” and “Cold Heart Killer” this young lady is going places. She is simply amazing.

Don’t take my word for it, let’s take a little tour of her music catalog.

This is Lia Marie’s latest single, the video dropped about a month ago,
Wow! This is one heck of a song, so deep and quite a story. With tremendous vocals from Lia Marie. I think I’m in love again. Yeah, you don’t need him anymore.
Cold Heart Killer

Lyric video directed by Sarah Bahbah and produced by Possy Agency.
DOP: Stefan Weinberger
Post Production: Victor Pakpour

This was the first song I heard by Lia Marie Johnson and I was suitably blown away. Such a beautiful song about a dark subject. Obviously I’m not alone in digging it, currently has more than 8.5 millions views. The more I hear it the more in love with it I am.
DNA

Official video directed by Gabriel Younes and produced by Anthem Films and Elliot Sisson
(C) 2016 Awesomeness Music Partners, LLC

This was from a couple of years back, a cover of the Ellie Goulding classic. I truly believe I prefer Lia Marie’s version, and I have long been a fan of the Ellie Goulding version.
Love Me Like You Do

Keys: Jen Hirsh
Directed and Edited by: Eric Guerrero

Still back a couple of years was this early pop gem from Lia Marie Johnson when she was still a teenager.
A well crafted young pop tune, surprised it didn’t crack the charts.
Moment Like You

Gonna close today with a live version of one of the songs featured at the beginning of this post.
Live, this is even more powerful in its stripped down simplicity. Brilliant.
DNA

Video directed by Possum Hill and produced by Thermonuclear
(C) 2016 Awesomeness Music Partners, LLC

Brenda Xu

model: Brenda Xu, MUAH: Kat St. John

Wow, what a treat I have for you on this quiet Sunday afternoon. Meet a very talented singer / songwriter who hails from the Seattle area in the great North West.

We’ll let her fill you in with her mini bio:
Ambient/folk artist, Brenda Xu (pronounced “shoo”) has been building a steady following since her arrival on the Seattle music scene a few years ago. The momentum she created with the release of her last album “For The Winter” in 2014 has led to two successful western U.S. tours and a recent feature in the MTV show “Awkward.” Compared to artists such as Cat Power, Daughter, and Aimee Mann, her sound has been described as “treading the delicate line between washed-out ambient tones and carefully crafted acoustic arrangements.” Her new album “Overflow” builds on the unique sonic landscape that she created on her last album with more complex song structures and musical arrangements. As a DIY artist, she has successfully funded two Kickstarter campaigns to release her albums and music videos. She plans to tour the U.S. and Europe this year to reach a growing audience in new regions.

That said, every song I have heard by her is a mini masterpiece. All great songs by a great singer.

So are you ready for a wander round her song book?

First up what a beautiful understated song this is. I love the simplicity of its opening verses, but the orchestra provides some complexity. And then of course there is the awesome tone of Brenda Xu and her beautiful voice. A pretty cool video too.
Lovely Storm

“Lovely Storm” written & performed by Brenda Xu
from the album “Overflow” (release date 2/24/17)
live performance shots & editing by Rob Edmondson
time-lapse shots by Krists Veide

📸 Brighton Lacey Photography

I always enjoy these Sofar performances, they always seem to capture the artist perfectly. This one is no exception a beautiful performance by Brenda Xu @ Sofar San Francisco.
Another great song.
Light of the moon

Filmed by: Stef Sequeira
Manuel Garcia
Elizabeth Barelli
Edited by: Elizabeth Barelli
Audio by: Scott McDowell

 

OK, let’s change it up a little bit and hear Brenda on a cover, and of course being from Seattle it has to be Nirvana or Jimi Hendrix. This is a terrific performance at TBASA’s Lo-Fi All Stars #76.
Smells Like Teen Spirit

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a song by American rock band Nirvana. It is the opening track and lead single from the band’s second album, Nevermind (1991), released on DGC Records. Written by Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl (lyrics by Cobain, music by Nirvana) and produced by Butch Vig, the song uses a verse-chorus form where the main four-chord riff is used during the intro and chorus to create an alternating loud and quiet dynamic.
[Wikipedia]

 

This is the final track for today, another wonderful live performance, this time @ NILEShcs. A tremendous song about a trumpet, but in lieu of a trumpet they have a flugelhorn. Don’t worry about it just enjoy it.
Trumpet Song

Trumpet Song * Yun-En Liu on violin and Tyler Nugent on flugelhorn

📸 Sharon Hannah

OK, so I lied again. Couldn’t leave you thirsty, so check out this great new album from Brenda Xu.

Overflow

released March 7, 2017

vocals, acoustic guitar: Brenda Xu
drums: Ben Kent
bass, electric & acoustic guitar: Timothy Van Buren
violin: Yun-En Liu
viola: Andrew Van Kempen
cello: Colin Isler
trombone: Don Farwell

all songs written by Brenda Xu ©
produced by Don Farwell & Brenda Xu
recorded at Earwig Studio in Seattle, WA
mastered by Levi Seitz at Blackbelt Mastering

cover artwork by Jacquie Gouvea