Music for the Masses
by DJ Ron Slomowicz
A roundup of great drum & bass, electro, house, progressive, chill and vocal dance tracks.
Alex Mills - Be Somebody - [ULTRA]
Alex Mills is an artist to watch for 2017. Already known as an in-demand vocalist of the underground house world (Joey Negro, No Artificial Coors, Basement Jaxx, Hot Since 82), Alex’s debut solo track “Be Somebody” is a monster. Built around the chorus of Ruffneck’s house classic “Everybody Be Somebody,” she adds a few playful verses, very much of the Cheat Codes playbook. It works even better than you could imagine. The production sounds like a classic house remix of a Madonna/Mariah Carey jam from the early '90s, which oddly makes it fit the current vibe perfectly. The video is quite cute as well, an homage to ball/voguing culture reimagined in the vision of Kiesza’s “Hideaway.”
DJ NG featuring Nicola Tate - Freedom - [FETCH]
On first listen, you will get sucked into the funky house grooves of “Freedom.” The laughter in the intro is a strong contrast to the deep bassline and the dark vibe of the track. When the vocals of Nicola Tate come in, you get the sense there is a special message here. The lyrics about fighting against apathy and personal problems in a search for personal freedom and redemption make the song almost a battle cry. Nicola’s voice and vibe felt so familiar that it took just a few listens to realize that “Freedom” is the ultimate response track to “Break My World” by Amanda Ghost and Dark Globe. Listen to the tracks back to back and you will see what I mean. As brilliant as the original production is, the mixes by Luke Larrell and Jack N Denny will make the most noise in clubland.
Bakermat - Baby - [DIRTY SOUL]
There are a few songs in the dance music canon that need to be left alone. “I Will Survive,” “Show Me Love,” and “We are Family” come to mind for having definitive versions that are classics. The plethora of cover versions and remixes that come out each year do nothing to add to the originals. “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” originally by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and covered famously by Thelma Houston is also in this category. While the Communards cover in the '80s was quite brilliant, most updates fail miserably. Recently, Bob Sinclar and Daddy’s Groove succeeded by sampling two lines of the original for a bouncy track that really worked as a track called “Burnin.” No stranger to sampling, Bakermat (who has incorporated elements of works of Shirley Caesar and Martin Luther King Jr into his previous tracks) decided to give the song a shot also. The track for “Baby” is his familiar house sound with a juke joint vibe and hints of gospel and rock in the mix. The lyrics work surprisingly well and the results are much better than you might expect. Though, let’s send out a message to all of the producers, DJs, and vocalists out there. Please, no more covers of “Don’t Leave Me This Way." We really don’t need another “Don’t Walk Away” / “Show Me Love” situation like we had last year.
Throttle - Hit the Road Jack - [SPINNIN]
Similar in vibe to “Baby,” Australian prodigy Throttle brings the feel of big band music into his disco-house production style. Ever since the classic house resurgence started a few years ago, there has been so many “Jack” tracks that it has been a running joke as to when someone would rework the Ray Charles classic. Throttle is up for the challenge and the results are fun, playful, and perfectly tongue-in-cheek. This is pure fun and full of energy, a fitting follow-up to the massive “Money Maker.” It’s really nice to see a DJ having fun and making great tracks, almost making you imagine what a Throttle and Dillon Francis collab would sound like. That would be a studio session perfect for live broadcast- or even a brilliant reality show.
Zookeepers - Kill My Speakers - [DIM MAK]
The New Noise stream on the Dim Mak Soundcloud page is one you must follow. Not only are the downloads free, the tracks are fresh, unique, and different. “Kill My Speakers” lives up to its title with intense trap interspersed with oddly soothing synth-pop, sounding like a-ha’s “Take on Me” played at half speed. The last trap drop speeds up to double-time for a sound that is mind-numbing. The way the track smoothly segues between the different sounds and tempo is quite elegant, which is a word not normally associated with trap music.
High Contrast - Shotgun Mouthwash - [3 Beat]
The lead track from the long-awaited Trainspotting sequel is a jump up rock track. Fueled The lead track from the long-awaited Trainspotting sequel is a jump-up rock track. Fueled with rebellious attitude and dirty riffs, “Shotgun Mouthwash” has more energy and power than just about any EDM festival banger that you’ve been subjected to over the past three years. The Jungle remix is one of the sickest tracks of the recent memory. Those lyrics over intense drum & bass beats and effects just might be too much for many listeners. The lyrics are quite aggressive as well, but if you’ve seen the first ‘Transpotting’ movie you will know what to expect. “Shotgun Mouthwash” is a fitting sequel to “Born Slippy,” which is probably one of the highest compliments that you can give to a track.
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