HITS is a New York City band to the core - both gritty and sleek, confident yet volatile, with a touch of vulnerability that’s never quite healed from past heartbreak. With undeniably catchy melodies, anthemic choruses, and playful lyrical wit, led by singer/guitarist Louis Epstein, HITS have positioned themselves to be at the top of bands to watch this year.
Formerly known as Jump into the Gosp el, this quintet quickly established themselves as a staple in the NYC club scene upon forming in 2010. They’ve shared the stage with artists such as Band of Skulls, MNDR,Cloud Nothings, Pop Etc., & Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. After releasing an EP featuring the dance-pop track "Humvee Mansion", JITG returned to the studio late last year to record their follow-up EP. Major changes and commitments ensued, and after five months they emerged victorious from the studio with their tightest material to date as well as a new moniker: HITS.
The songs form a throwback 80s electro-synth sound with a contemporary feel only the year 2012 could allow. The new EP, produced and mixed by themselves, swings from high energy dance songs like "Veins" and "St. John" to the thoughtful musings on isolation in "Twin Peaks" and the skewed vision of love in "Madness."
Mr. Little Jeans
Unlike yesterday's new band, here is an artist who patently does not telegraph what she is about with her name. Monica Birkenes, a Norwegian living in London, took her recording alias from a character in Wes Anderson's film Rushmore, which is about an eccentric teenage schoolboy who falls in love with his teacher. So ignore what we just said: Mr Little Jeans telegraphs Birkenes's offbeat yet commercial sensibility just fine.
Imagine a less idiosyncratic Lykke Li, or Annie ... just Annie, basically. Now, Annie is one of many Scandinavian musicians who have for a while been touting a sort of latterday version of the "new pop" with which ABC and the Human League et al colonised the charts in the early 80s: intelligent, sophisticated, ideas-driven, "subversive" yet accessible electro-pop. But Annie, like many of her peers, has never caught on in the UK, despite releasing several excellent records, maybe because pop doesn't need, or rather utterly resists, subverting nowadays. Indeed, is there a place for intelligent, sophisticated pop in the charts? Certainly, Scandinavian purveyors of the form – and there are plenty who excel at it – have routinely failed in the UK, pace, briefly, Alphabeat, and of course the Cardigans and, most recently, Robyn.
In fact, Robyn's success totally trashes our theory about this clever, notional pop not working in Britain, and Birkenes should take heart from it. Her songs are great, and we'll pretend, at least for today, that that is enough. Her single Rescue Song has the immediacy of a TV commercial (it's been used to advertise computers) and sets out MLJ's store quite neatly, sounding like an 80s performance of a 60s song with a 10s production. Not tense, 10s. It ends with a Peter Hook-y trebly bass hook and fingerclicks, as though to emphasise our point. Stones in the Attic is 60s girl-group doo wop with a Bowie/Queen Under Pressure bassline (not strictly a technical term) while Angel is more 80s girl-group in a Belinda Carlisle/Bangles sassy pop-rockin' sense. Demolition is a gorgeously quirky melodic delight with a breathily affecting vocal that is Debbie Harry-ish in its Warholian knowingness.
This is pop, basically, albeit in a hip 1978-82 new wave kind of way. Birkenes is currently in LA working on material for what promises to be an excellent debut album with "a bunch of cool producers" (is Greg Kurstin still cool?). We're not sure if Valentine, one of her MySpace tracks, will be on it, but it should. It's electro-poppy and features what sounds like a Heart of Glass sample. Faking Gold is rockier, like New Order fronted by Kylie in rock-chick mode. In all her chameleonic guises, Kylie never did do rock chick, did she? She should – that disco dolly routine is getting old. Careers advice, we've got it. Birkenes, at five foot nothing, is the new Kylie, or an über-Kylie because she writes her own material, has a hand in its production and can boast a clutch of songs better than anything La Minogue has done in years. She doesn't need any advice, career or otherwise, just a receptive, open-minded Radio 1.
Sometimes the most rewarding discoveries are the ones that take you completely by surprise. Foxes is one of those discoveries. Arriving unheralded with her Neon Gold Records’ debut ‘Youth’ late last year, it wasn’t long before the song’s resplendent synths, industrial percussion and by-turns-searing-and-soaring vocal were the talk of the town.
Foxes is in actual fact just one – Louisa Rose Allen. The Southampton-born 22 year-old followed her big sister to London the day she turned 18. She tried her hand at studying music but dropped out when she realised it wasn’t the studying part that she enjoyed. With ‘Youth’ (and its mournful b-side ‘Home’, and resulting remixes) having so far garnered over a million combined Soundcloud and YouTube plays, and 1,250 Hypemachine ‘likes’ between them, it’s unlikely she’ll be heading back to class anytime soon.
Now she returns with its eagerly awaited follow up, the Warrior EP, led by the dual-pronged attack of lead songs ‘Warrior’ and ‘White Coats’. Foxes will release the Warrior EP on 25 June via Neon Gold Records on 7-inch vinyl and digital EP.
Punks Jump Up
Punks Jump Up came together in London a few years back. Joe, a born & bred Londoner & David, a Swede just off the boat, had bumped into each other on several occasions, mainly occasions that had to do with music, style & anything visual that looked cool. They both come from a background of punk & dance music, street art, fashion & style all wrapped up in DIY ethos.
Both eager to get their share of the creative chaos that is east London they were putting on their own parties for the freaks, proto hipsters, fashion victims & loonies in general who were loitering the area. This led to beautiful friendships with a lot of music & art eccentrics in the vicinity so they set up their own Cassette Records label as a vent for all the creativity that needed an outlet.
The first Punks Jump Up EP – Be You (Beep Beep) on the Cassette label created a minor storm on the DIY dance scene in London and beyond and was played by the now lords of dance James Murphy & Erol Alkan. It got represented on BBC1 as Annie Mac & Chris Coco played the track to death. All this with no promotion – no pr.
The Cassette Label released a handful of EPs by artists & remixers like Simian Mobile Disco & Zongamin.
Another aspect of DIY is the fashion side and PJU soon started their own t shirt label called Stiff Couture, they took on Kate Moross (the now well established self made illustrator & designer) who was the first one to make a t shirt for the label.
The second Punks Jump Up track to be released was Dance To Our Disco on the Kitsune label in Paris, this turned into an instant underground hit, played by countless DJ's worldwide. The track features the mysterious guest vocalist Chalk Jaxon from Sweden (who according to some people is Howling Pelle from The Hives, this is a rumor yet to be confirmed).
Earlier this year they released their acclaimed track Blockhead, a heavily percussive dance music number. It was also released on Kitsune and featured remixes by Zombie Nation & Hey Today! among others. It received enormous acclaim from the disco/electro/dance fraternity and was played by DJs like Mylo, Andy George (BBC1), Tiga and eh… David Guetta !!!
Blockhead was also played all through the summer -10 by 2ManyDJ's as a part of their Under The Covers tour, with the distinctive animations that accompanied each track.
Punks Jump Up have always been into making music with a rough edge but with a good hook. PJU love the underground, cutting edge DIY scene but has never shied away from a good melody. They have proven this by remixing acts like Gossip, Crystal Castles, Lykke Li, Chromeo, Kele, Miike Snow, Robyn, Tiga, Yelle, Peter Bjorn & John & Ladytron and all turning their songs into very distinctive dance floor gems.
In between the constant touring to pretty much every country in Europe, Australia, Chile, Brazil, Mexico & Singapore they have been relentlessly working on new music.
2011 continues to be a very busy year for PJU. There are now two new Punks Jump Up singles lined up for release.
First one up is a track called Chimes pt 1, a driving but melodic disco track with anthemic ambitions. It will be released on the prolific Klein Records new off shoot Klein Tanz on July 22nd. It will feature remixes from Remute, the legendary dance maestro from Hamburg, Paris' golden boy of dance Golden Bug and last but not least, Say Yes To another Excess. This enigmatic but high scoring duo from London released their anthem Say Yes To another Success on the australian Bang Gang imprint in May.
The next release is a song called Mr Overtime, a more pop-y gem which features the golden voice of none other than Dave1 from Chromeo. a super classy and brilliant remix of this track by Brussels wonder kid Mickey was featured as an exclusive on the Magician's June mix tape. It gathered a lot of praise from the blog community and has already leaked on various fan videos on Youtube. Release for this one is set for September but you are bound to hear it on all the beaches & clubs throughout the summer.
Punks Jump Up's constant traveling and gigging has made them a lot of friends and this shows well on the production of the forthcoming PJU album, it will feature guest appearances by artists like DVNO (of Justice DVNO fame), Black Kids, We Have Band & Men (ex Le Tigre).