The work of Alexz Johnson has been gaining momentum since a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 saw her debut solo EP, Skipping Stone released to critical acclaim. The new new wave’s best kept secret now resides in Los Angeles and has released a new EP-length album with Boston’s Bleu McAuley of Aware Records indie pop fame. The duo have joined forces to put a new twist on new wave with this collaborative release.
The big buzz on Johnson & McAuley is the duo’s cover of the 80s classic, “The Promise” by When In Rome. Johnson & McAuley’s version of this legendary new wave anthem is tuned down and done as a duet. With less electronic elements and even an acoustic guitar, the track surprisingly takes on a sort of post punk feel.
Other songs on the album have the same post punk-meets-electronica cache which may begin to define this duo if they continue with this project. Listeners may swear the 80s-inspired “Heartbeat (Beatin’ You Up)” is another new wave cover. This original piece does a wonderful job highlighting Johnson’s heady, Kate Bush-like voice while creating a melody which is both unique and familiar. “Illuminated Dream” is the most classically new wave track, but it still has McAuley’s signature indie dream pop flare. A surprising punch of Roxy Music-era Bryan Ferry in the intro and refrain make “Illumiated Dream” the most musically diverse song on the album.
It will be interesting to watch Johnson and McAuley develop this new project, bringing their individual talents together for this unique collaboration. “The Promise, ” “Heartbeat (Beatin’ You Up)” and “Illuminated Dream” are the first three singles on this mini-album and are available to stream on Johnson & McAuley’s Soundcloud page. The full album released today and can be pre-ordered on their website. The duo will be playing a special premiere show in Los Angeles tomorrow, April 9 at Resident before heading to the east coast for a mini tour. Tickets are available by following this link.
Written by Layla Marino
Blog: (Dropping) Weird Science