Music for the Masses
by DJ Ron Slomowicz
A roundup of great electro, indie dance, ambient, future bass/house, deep house, and progressive tracks.
Sinden - MIC - [NIGHT BASS]
Sometimes a track comes along that serves a purpose. If you are trying to figure out what bass house is, as opposed to deep house or future house, take a listen to “MIC” for a definitive example. Or better yet, if you are trying to explain it to someone else, tell them to go to Soundcloud and download “MIC” for free and add it to their playlists. It is quite impressive that ten years into his career, British DJ/producer Graeme Sinden is still on the cutting edge of clubland, taking current sounds and warping it with his original flavor. Be sure to check out his recent track “Not No Love” with AC Slater for another brilliant wobbly take on bashes.
Jonas Blue ft JP Cooper - Perfect Strangers [POSITIVA/VIRGIN EMI]
Following up a massive debut hit like “Fast Car” was going to be a challenge for newcomer Jonas Blue. Teaming up with guitar playing singer/songwriter JP Cooper, they’ve constructed the solid and memorable “Perfect Strangers.” The vibe is chilled, and dare I say, trop similar to the big hit with a fresh vibe from JP’s raspy and soulful vocal delivery. There is a bit of pseudo dancehall vibe influence which is similar to recent hits by Justin Bieber and Drake - but there is something about this feels, for lack of a better word, real. The club mix pumps it up a little bit but keeps the feeling of the original in complete focus. Listening to the JP Cooper’s original music, I can only imagine how amazing a stripped-down acoustic version with him playing it on guitar would sound.
Clean Bandit ft Louisa Johnson - Tears - [ATLANTIC]
Speaking about following up a massive debut, is there anyone in the world who did not fall in love with Clean Bandit after their 2014 album ‘New Eyes?’ Not only did they brilliantly meld classical string instruments with electronic production and pop melodies, but they introduced the world to Jess Glynne. The first taste of their new album comes with the magnificent “Tears,” featuring the voice of UK X Factor 2015 winner Louisa Johnson. Starting with almost a '50s soda shop pop melody, it speeds up to dance tempo as she sings about tears on the ground and on her pillow while getting over a bad relationship. The strings and the pristine production make it an obvious Clean Bandit, song but it doesn’t sound like an assembly line duplication of their first album. Incorporating that '50s feel gives it an inspired and fresh feeling. For club consumption, since an extended mix without a beat intro is pretty much useless, DJs will go wild for the Wideboys remix. It’s as if the duo have been listening to the plethora of recent remixes by Barry Harris and were inspired to bring a bit of the current American pop tribal sound into their trademark bassline house. The result is a guaranteed floorfiller that we will all be singing along to for the rest of the summer (if not year).
Eva Simons & Sidney Samson - Escape From Love - [SPINNIN DEEP]
If this was a perfect world, Eva Simon’s previous singles “Policeman” and “Bludfire” would be the international pop smashes that they deserve to be. Both were edgy and political while being catchy and danceable. Teaming up again with husband Sidney Samson, they’ve constructed what is the ultimate followup to their lovely 2014 song “Celebrate the Rain.” Slowing the tempo down to 110bpm, the groove is similar to recent hits by DJ Snake and Diplo but different in execution and the sound effects that are deployed. Basically it will fit with the electronic songs being played on top 40 and satellite radio without sounding exactly the same. Eva sounds incredible, as always, and her lyrics about not being able to move on from an imperfect relationship are universal. This is such an immediate hit on first play, let’s hope the people in US radio land give it the shot it deserves.
Koishii & Hush ft Gillian Gilbert - Lifetime - [GRAMMATON]
British/Canadian duo Koishii & Hush have a knack for working with vocalists who don’t normally record dance records - Donna Lewis, John Taylor, and Suzanne Shaw come quickly to mind. Aside from New Order and The Other Two, Gillian Gilbert has never released music. For the lushly produced “Lifetime,” the first time you hear her voice it is effected and repeated in a style not dissimilar to Otto Knows “Million Voices.” When the verse comes in, she is instantly recognizable as her vocals floating on an airy soundscape punctuated with classic trance chords. For club consumption, a variety of up and coming remixers take the track in divergent directions - 303bastard (retro wave), Ahmet Atasever (classic prog), Lavigne (shuffling house), Relocate (old school trance), and Zack Edwards (big room electro).
Vato Gonzalez ft Doctor - 2 Step - [BLACK BUTTER]
The original dirty house producer Vato Gonzalez has unleashed a slew of dance floor riddims over the past few years to the delight of DJs all over the world. Yet even the pop-leaning vibe of “Push Riddim” didn’t make it outside out of clubland and into the mainstream like the infamous “Badman Riddim” did a few years back. This is where things get really interesting. Vito’s new track, “2 Step” featuring vocals by grime master Doctor, brings in a Jamaican vibe with an almost bruk-styled chant and rhythm. This is one of those record that could break in the hip-hop world as easily as the electronic world - the perfect segue between rap and trop. That Black Butter (the label that launched Rudimental, Gorgon City, and Clean Bandit) is releasing this track makes us think that Vato is being set up for the global push that his creativity, uniqueness, nerve, and talent deserves.
Just Kiddin - Fall For You - [COLUMBIA]
In its original version, “Fall For You” is an unexpectedly brilliant and unique track. It starts off as straightforward pop but then it surprises you with choral chants, horn lines, and orchestral elements. It almost feels try-hard but it is so expertly executed that you can’t help but love it. Then comes Alex Metric, who has been on a back to basics minimal kick for his last few EPs. His remix goes in a completely different direction with a single line of vocals repeated over excessive DJ madness. The best reference here is the classic Armand van Helden mix of Tori Amos “Professional Widow.” The beat drops in and out (as does the bass) and the bouncy house track goes all over the place creating a lovable dirty mess that DJs and club kids are going to go bonkers for. If perchance the idea of spinning at 121 BPM scares you, turn on your master tempo and pump this to 128 and you will be quite happy with the ensuing madness.
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