Russian pop music has undeniably come a long way since its shy development over the last 20 years, and has only just started to make waves within the international consciousness. Enter Tesla Boy, a quintessential Synth-pop/New wave project created in 2008 that was not only spawned from an era of hungry youth in '80s and '90s Moscow that eagerly sought out new and experimental pop music from abroad, but is leading the next generation of Russian electronic artists to take on the global scene with force.
Tesla Boy is charismatic frontman and producer Anton Sedidov, who from an early age learnt to speak the international language of music through his father's old vinyl collection that included Ray Charles, Prince, Stevie Wonder and Blondie. From here, a clear affinity with '80s pop and soul from the US and Britain emerged, and has since played a strong role in crafting the Tesla Boy identity. From their beginnings with the release of debut single Electric Lady and first LP Modern Thrills in 2010, the sounds of Tesla Boy's global influences are immediate, with their acclaimed follow-up single Split, produced to a high level with deep catchy melodies and disco undertones.
Following the standout success of their sparkling debut, 2012 saw the band return to the studio to work on their highly anticipated second album, The Universe Made of Darkness, due to drop May 21, 2013. March saw the band share the first single, 1991 (out now and available to buy here), an infectiously optimistic groove that is an exciting teaser to the finished LP that takes their previous albums' 80's inspired synth sounds to even further heights. Second single 'M.C.H.T.E.' is a bouncy and percussion heavy track with rhythmic, funky bass lines and synths that flicker across the surface. Broken Doll sees the band team up with London crooner Tyson to create a dark, full-bodied and sensual track. As the chorus of the track would suggest, Broken Doll is an invitation to the dance floor, with Tyson's vocals positively electrifying as he asks, "Do you want to dance?"
As only a preview to what is to come, it is obvious Tesla Boy are not to be mistaken with passing club trends that have come out of Russia in previous years. Tesla Boy carry a shiny pop sensibility, combined with sleek and sophisticated production that takes their nostalgic synth sound and punching soul hooks into the new wave era of EDM with global appeal.
For such a patently American locale, the Twin Cities have lacked a remarkable group that evokes the American rock canon in a classic manner for a long time. Enter Night Moves. Formed in 2009 by guitarist and vocalist John Pelant, bassist Micky Alfano and multi-instrumentalist Mark Ritsema, Night Moves is a distinctly original concoction. Their honey-dipped sound seethes with a kind of down-home tenderness - and like the best glittering music - the arrangements are colossal in shape. Night Moves' powerful debut Colored Emotions is this Minneapolis group's first album.
Pelant's tone-perfect vocals on Colored Emotions serves Night Moves not just as its lyrical core but also its glittering adornment. With an extensive vocal range, his voice ventures where lone guitar solos cannot. Hence, there's no cornball guitar hero antics in Night Moves. Instead, they carefully built their songs around strong acoustic and rhythmic grounds, the clarity of crystal-clear production, and Pelant's deft howl. The reverb of hollow-body guitars, the bright wash of crash cymbals, the haze of harmonica and organ tremolo – this is the album's bedrock and it shines like gold.
When you're as naturally talented and driven as Carre Callaway is, it's easy to get ahead of yourself. As a young girl growing up in Denver, Colorado, it was always clear that she was going places, and getting there fast. Carre (pronounced "Car-ray") taught herself to play guitar at the age of 13 and began performing in the local folk scene almost immediately afterwards. She had the kind of book smarts to gain so much extra credit at high school that she ended up graduating two years before everyone else her age did. And by the time she was 17, she was opening for Nine Inch Nails at their arena-sized shows for their 2005 With Teeth tour- at Trent Reznor's personal behest.
It might be a stage name but don't be fooled into thinking it's some kind of elaborate façade or a fictitious character. In person, she's polite, pleasant and mild-mannered Carre Callaway but on stage, the wild, uncontrollable Queen Kwong emerges and those two contrasting sides of her personality have always been in place since she was young.
It's a duality that you can instantly spot in Queen Kwong's music. Her guitar isn't merely an instrument she plays with her hands, it's something she inhabits with her soul and the resulting shifts between beauty and brutality feel all the more intense because of it. Similarly, her voice has an elastic ability to go straight from a seductive purr to an enraged howl and it's because she sings from the pit of her stomach rather than the back of her throat. What results is dangerously unpredictable blast of rock 'n' roll that sits in the lineage of such primal and visceral acts as The Stooges, Nirvana, early Hole, and even Queens Of The Stone Age. Of course, there are plenty of people who simply buy a couple of fuzz-pedals and use that as justification to name drop these acts as sonic influences, but Queen Kwong uses them as physical ones too.