Tag Archives: Samantha Urbani

The Best Albums of Summer 2017

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Every three months, the Bandcamp Daily editorial staff combs through the stacks to present our favorite records of the year to date. The albums presented here run the stylistic spectrum, everything from noise to indiepop to hip-hop to everything in between. And if you like what you see here, check out our picks for winter and spring of 2017, too.

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Samantha Urbani Masters ’80s and ’90s-Inspired Pop

Samantha Urbani

Samantha Urbani has been a student of pop ever since she can remember. In fact, she’s on her way to becoming a master of the craft, picking apart the production techniques of greats like Janet Jackson, Sade, Nina Hagen, Max Martin, and modern hit-makers like Justin Bieber, and seamlessly incorporating them into her unique brand of bombastic, one-two punch, indie pop. She’s unafraid to be referential. She wants listeners to recognize the sounds that she craves to bring back into the pop world: lush synth lines, drum machines, loud guitars, and that rough, in-your-face quality of late ‘90s and early ‘00s radio hits from the likes of Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.

This new sound might as well function as her liberation from the tight constraints she placed on herself while working with her former band, the internationally successful outfit, Friends. The band’s music was an exercise in minimalist production, whereas Urbani aims to fill the room and transport her audience into her eternally cool world, one beat at a time.

When Friends—who came out during the height of the mid-’00s New York City indie rock scene—fizzled out, Urbani branched out on her own into other ventures: modeling stints for fashion brands like Coach and Calvin Klein, directing her own music videos, acting, and launching her own label, URU, where she released the long out-of-print debut of her “all time favorite band,” British new wave act Rexy. Now, she’s ready to unleash her first solo EP, Policies of Power, an intense and wildly fun study in late ‘80s and ‘90s pop sounds—a retro cool exploration of what, according to Urbani, made the pop music of the era great: heavy guitars, unrestrained use of synths and drum loops, and unexpected influences that few musicians dare to tout, like UB40.

Her solo career also led her out of New York and into the warmth of Los Angeles, a transition that brought with it its own set of challenges, adventures, and insights, some of which she explores in Policies of Power. Under the shiny, bombastic production, you can hear Urbani—her voice as clear as it’s ever been—struggling with the concept of time, pondering about karma and the merits of letting the world deal with the people and things that have wronged her, accountability, grief, and the eschewed power dynamics in human interactions.

The move also afforded her the time and distance to deal with the things that were weighing her down in NYC. “I feel like acceptance of change is important, and also being nurturing of your own sentimentality and not feeling guilty if you miss something or wish something had changed,” she says about the move. “You have to really get into those feelings sometimes, and often it’s tough to get into those feelings in the place that’s bothering you.”

But the magnetic pull of NYC is hard to resist, so Urbani returns, during the seasons with the most amount of sunshine, and wreaks artistic havoc on the city that saw her grow up. On the phone from NYC, she spoke to Bandcamp about her new music, her love of ‘80s and ‘90s pop, and how Policies of Power avoids the narrative of a breakup record. 

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