Music for the Masses
by DJ Ron Slomowicz
A roundup of great electro, chill, funky, aggro, vocal, deep house, and banging tracks.
Roisto - Apart In Love - [YOUTH CONTROL]
Finnish producer Roisto (which translated to English means villains) burst onto the scene this week with the grooved out "Apart in Love" EP. Built around chilled beats, funky grooves, and flowing synth pads, it is a glossy take on deep house slowed down to a funkier 120 bpm tempo. Not really a track that will grab you on first listen but as background music it will get you humming along without realizing it. The other two songs on the EP expand his sound with "I'm Who You Need" going in a Daft Punk direction while "Call the Sky" adds a harder, almost industrial synth edge. While the songs are good, most of the buzz will be about the 'Look Up'-inspired video chronicling the dehumanizing isolation of living online. It is that rare club video that will make you think and examine what you are doing with your life. EDM that makes you think, hmm.. what a concept.
Heavyweight - I Got the Chrome - [VICIOUS]
To prove that not all Finnish DJs have the same sound, look no further than quintet Heavyweight who recently unleashed "I Got the Chrome." Chrome is not a reference to the Google browser but a gun and the single sampled vocal line "I got the chrome bitch," sets the tone for the grating and aggressive track. That was meant in a complimentary tone, because however irritating and difficult the song may be to enjoy, the use of power tool and machine noise is so relentless and mind numbing that you have to respect it. This is electro for guys who think Skrillex is easy listening and enjoy thrashing in mosh pits. For a nice contrast, dig up their track from a few years ago "Come Alive" which seems like Enya singing opera in comparison.
Hardwell - United We Are - [REVEALED/ULTRA]
Like just about every other EDM lover this past week, I bought the Hardwell album from iTunes and enjoyed it incessantly. Aside from that one horrid "fucking sally" song, easily resolved by deleting from the playlist, the album is just as solid, listenable and consistent as the recently released Above and Beyond album. It's a solid mix of banging festival tracks, vocal-based anthemic pop songs, a hint of trance and the obligatory hip hop collab (Fatman Scoop hypes the party with lines that will no doubt be sampled gratuitously for the next six months.) There are several ear catching moments, most notably the mainstream-radio targeted Jason Derulo song where it's hard to discern if he is saying "fuck you" or "if I go". The strength of the album lies in the vocal songs with a great mix of male and female vocalists. "Let Me Be Your Home" by Bright Lights is a standout and will probably be the summer's big festival vocal anthem. The title track is just as strong, we only wished it had a fully fleshed out verse/chorus/vocal rather than just the refrain. Two great electronic artists album in the first month of the year, looks like everyone is going to have to, as Funkerman one so eloquently said, "step up your game."
Seven Lions - The Throes of Winter / Lose Myself - [CASABLANCA]
Hey, Delerium and Tiesto called, they want their remix of "Silence" back. Yeah, that's kind of crass, but when you hear the preview for "Throes of Winter," the melody is so similar to that "Silence" remix, it's as if Seven Lions is doing to Tiesto what Kygo has done for Avicii, i.e. slowed down the tempo and add some polish. That's not to say that the track isn't quality, it just isn't that original. For a truly original song by Seven Lions, listen to "Lose Myself" a stunning, electronic track that builds from atmospheric beauty to full on glitchy electro. The overlaying of sonic textures is masterful and singer Lynn Gunn sounds wonderful with her emotional performance. While you await the release of the new Seven Lions EP (coming in March,) go ahead and buy the download of his last single with Kerli "Worlds Apart," probably one of the most gorgeous electronic compositions of 2014.
Jean Elan ft Steve Edwards - Everlasting Love - [BIG BEAT]
Do you know who Jean Elan is? The German producer, best known for his rework of Basement Jaxx "Where's Your Head At" a few years ago, releases a steady stream of electro and progressive tracks that DJs love but never get the massive spotlight they deserve. This might change with the release of "Everlasting Love." With an unabashedly pop feel, he mixes all the expected EDM elements (rolling synths, big builds and drops, "those" stabs) for the track yet sweetens them up for mainstream consumption. Taking the song over the top is singer Steve Edwards (known for his classics with Axwell, Bob Sinclar and Cassius) who bring a gospel/soulful vibe and gives the song warmth with true emotion. For club consumption, the two remixes take the song in completely opposite directions with Diego Miranda banging it up with aggressive electro and Christian Liebeskind lounging it down with a chilled out groove.
KSHMR - Dead Mans Hand - [SPINNIN]
Why are DJs so afraid of vowels? For a while, they were all replacing E's with 3's and A's with 4's. Now, they are just chopping them out completely, SNBRN and now KSHMR. After the big debut with R3hab on "Karate," KSHMR mixes two discordant elements to create something new and somewhat different. For the melodic sections, he layers Avicii-esque country and western vibes (and whistling) over the triplet swing beat that hit its peak with DVBBS. Surprisingly the two sounds work together quite well and provide a fresh contrast to the rote banger beats that make up the rest of the track. While it's not nearly as moving as the previously mentioned Roisto video, the western themed gun-slinging video is almost empowering when compared to his previous video that featured scantily clad EDM babes making soft core porn disguised as a karate workout.
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