h1

You Give Me Butterflies

January 6, 2010

Anyone who’s come within five feet of me this year has heard me rant about how unbelievably good Hervé’s Mixmag set is. Honestly the best electro set I’ve heard maybe ever. From start to finish the guy throws in both well known and unheard bangers, like his remix of Kidda’s “Under The Sun” which claimed a spot in my top 50 songs of the decade, and go-to crowd pleaser of any sane crowd, his own “Cheap Thrills.” But under one of his many monikers, he Hervé-ifies “Butterflies” to make it the hardest-hitting, pleasure-inducing electro anthem in a while. It doesn’t take long for it to drop, and as soon as it does, you’ll be hooked. Guarenteed.

T2 – “Butterflies (The Count Of Monte Cristal’s Sceptre Mix)” [download]

*****

Advertisements
h1

Those 3 Words Saved My Life

January 6, 2010

Steve Angello, member of Swedish House Mafia and all-around house DJ all star team, has been all over the map in 2009. One of the most prolific DJs of 2009, Angello was touring, recording and remixing almost non-stop. And now that 2010 is upon us, we can begin to dissect and appreciate the mostly massive tunes the man gave us. His remix of “3 Words” may not ever break the red velvet rope of nightclubs, but it’s a headphone paradise. Angello rides a single guitar line until a steady bass picks up that feels not unlike Deadmau5’s “The Longest Road remix,” which landed at number 15 on my decade best-of list. It’s a pop song with a dark and mysterious touch, thanks to Angello’s magical tinkering.

Cheryl Cole – “3 Words (Steve Angello remix)”

*****

h1

I’m in the Quicksand

January 6, 2010

La Roux’s underappreciated (at least here in US) debut album is full of passionate, snappy, girl fire that oozes with electro bliss and unstoppable synth power. And the next best thing has been seeping onto the internet in heavy, sometimes unmanageable doses– the remixes. Her voice is the ripest remixing tool since Royksopp, and house, dubstep and electro DJs have all had their turn. The concensus seems to be Skream’s dubstep rework of “In for the Kill” is the tune, but Alex Metric’s remix of “Quicksand” is in a league of its own. Patience pays off here, and if you stick around for that breakdown at 2:56, you’ll see what I mean. It’s the sound of the new and improved La Roux.

Hear the original before the remix:
La Roux – “Quicksand”

La Roux – “Quicksand (Alex Metric remix) [download]

******

h1

Top 50 Songs of the Decade

December 14, 2009

I posted my list of my top 11 albums of the decade, and now we have arrived at that more specific indicator at greatness– the songs. Most publications have put their album lists out after the songs, seemingly because the albums list is more dramatic, but I disagree– these songs, taken as a whole, tell the story of my life these past ten years. The ups, the downs, the neutrals, the ecstasy-like nights, and the hyper-depression evenings. All of it is summed up by these tracks.

I’ll roll out the list in the next 5 days– ten songs each day. Every song will be available for streaming, and the occasional track I’ll throw up to download. There’s no rhyme or reason for which songs I post to download– those I think most of you don’t have, and should have, will be included. (Though really, if you’re human, if you have feelings, if you have a soul, you should have all of these tracks.)

My favorite lists are those that help me discover new gems, and I hope you all find something you love in this, something you haven’t heard before.

Without further ado, I present my favorite tracks of the 00’s
#50-#41
#40-31
#30-21
#20-11
#10-1

Click below to see the full list

Read the rest of this entry »

h1

Arts & Cash

December 1, 2009

I worry that the new single from electronic masterminds Modeselektor will be criminally underappreciated. For all the greatness they’ve given us over the years, they still lag significantly behind hipper and more culturally relevant DJs. How sad it is that that stuff matters. “Art & Cash” is the clever little title of the duo’s latest outing. “Art” acts basically as an intro into “Cash,” but the ear-screeching racket of the former seems like almost a snide joke to see how much pain a human can withstand. Well, when “Cash” drops, all humor immediately subsides. The bass rolls furiously behind an unexpectedly likable groove, and climaxes into next year’s surprise dance hit. Guetta and Black Eyed Peas followers won’t be able to boogie to this tune—but fuck them. This shit is goooood.

Also, do not miss this phenomenal video for the track. It’s one of those videos in which, after you watch it, you cannot listen to the song without picturing it in your head. A visual stimulation for the ages.

Modeselektor – “Cash”

h1

The Decade List — Looking Backwards

November 17, 2009

It’s the end of the world decade as we know it.

The decade is nearly over, and I’m forced (internally, of course) to analyze, contextualize, and dissect the last ten years in music. The 21st century has been a landmark time in my life—my introduction to music. Of course, the first half of my life had a background soundtrack as well, but it wasn’t until a certain 2004 release did I begin to realize that it was time for me to walk to the beat of the music, and not the other way around.

It’s bizarre to see how much my taste and listening habits have changed over the course of my immersion into the art. Napster downloads and carpool mix-tapes characterized the beginning of my musical indulgence, but now I literally lock myself in a room alone for hours, simply watching an album play down my iTunes window. It’s not even considered borderline obsession anymore, but it’s nice that society doesn’t frown upon a music geek the same way it would if I were spending my productive time fooling around with plastic Warcraft figures.

Considering I got into music relatively late, I’ve spent the last six years catching up. I’ve torn through the “greats,” of the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, and 60’s, making sure I know every ironic line Morrissey has sung, and every line David Byrne snorted.
Every chord change the Pixies make, each time Bowie changed his hairstyle, and every time Elliot Smith hinted at his poetic suicide. But without hesitation, I can say that the last ten years in music have meant more to me than anything else.

If you’re a fan of electronic music, you’d have to agree with me. Technology = electronic music, and as we’ve gotten more and more sophisticated with computers, the music has mirrored this advancement. In the 2000s, we saw electronic music fuse with hip-hop, rock, pop and the mainstream-ization of house music. The most sought after live events (Daft Punk, Radiohead) use electronic elements as the backbone of their music, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a song sitting in the top legions of the Billboard charts that didn’t have at least a synth leaping across its chorus.

Not everyone will agree with this list—but for me, these are the albums that defined the decade in music. Without further ado, I present my top eleven (couldn’t do just ten) albums of the 21st Century (so far). For each album, I’ve included a key track available for download.

11) Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)
This wasn’t the first time the robots lit up dance floors (that would be their first release Homework, with such jams as “Da Funk”) but for me, this was my discovery of the works of the two French DJs. The first half is cut with pop-friendly singles like “Aerodynamic,” “Harder Better Faster Stronger” and “One More Time,” and the second side creeps up on you with more subtle tunes like “Face to Face” and “Voyager.” Regardless of your preference, there’s something for everyone here. No other album released nine years ago still has the same relevance that this has today—a true testament to the pop perfection of Discovery.

Key track: “Digital Love”


10) The National – Boxer (2007)
Just three years old, the fourth album from the National already feels timeless. Matt Beringer’s soothing croon makes us feel like we’re sitting alone in a dark and damp bar late at night, but there’s something incredibly moving about this collection of songs that cures any sense of lonesomeness. Each song, from the opening chords of lead-track “Fake Empire” to the epic “Start a War” has a beautiful emptiness quality that is filled by your own emotional response to the songs. It’s dark and gloomy, yet simultaneously uplifting. You leave Boxer feeling at ease and content with all of your problems—finally.

Key track: “Fake Empire”

9) Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)
Every music critic has exhausted the story behind this album—a heartbroken Justin Vernon travels to the woods of Wisconsin seeking isolation and returns with this album. It’s unimportant really—listening to this batch of acoustic wonders, I could’ve guessed as much. Vernon’s voice is the real instrument here—he reaches high notes Chris Martin could only dream about, and does so with incredible ease. There was no album that evokes as much emotion as For Emma does that was released this decade. Thoreau went into the woods and came back with his masterpiece, Walden. Justin Vernon came back with his—this.

Key track: “Skinny Love”

8: Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)
Egomaniac Kanye West has made himself hard to love these days, but before his epic breakdowns at award shows and overly-glitzy production, he released two incredible hip-hop albums. College Dropout’s minimalist beats had some of West’s best verses, but his 2005 follow-up encompasses everything great about him. Turning Curtis Mayfield’s classic tune into his own on “Touch the Sky” and remixing the Bond theme for “Diamonds are Forever,” he showcases his creative genius. There’s not a dud on this 20 song masterpiece, though glad to see he’s since done away with the useless skits.

Key track: “Gone (ft.Consequence & Cam’ron)”

7) The Field – From Here We Go Sublime (2007)
Minimalist electronic music hit a genre highpoint with The Field’s debut album, From Here We Go Sublime. It’s endlessly repetitive, looping the same beats for minutes on end, but the result puts you in an inescapable trance. A dangerous album to drive to, your mind reaches new levels of thought and daydream during, and after, the conclusion of this record. He made this with only his laptop and a vision, but the sound is huge and otherworldly, a soundtrack to my most philosophical and transcendental moments.

Key track: “A Paw in My Face”

6) Bloc Party – Silent Alarm (2005)
The mid-decade Brit-rock invasion was led by an unusual group of musicians. Led by an openly gay Kele Okereke, Bloc Party tore apart the emerging hipster crowd with lead singles “Banquet” and “Helicopter,” which still sound as fresh as they did five years ago. Thousands of bands tried to copy Bloc Party’s sound (here’s looking at your Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park– though even they themselves could never recreate it completely), but all fell prey to the fact that there was no surpassing this group of lanky and awkward Brits. Powerful and thought provoking, light-hearted and witty, Silent Alarm opened the door for electronic music and rock to fuse without sacrificing the integrity of either genre.

Key track: “So Here We Are”

5) Deadmau5 – Random Album Title (2008)
Well, this really came out of nowhere. First introduced to Deadmau5 (pronounced dead-mouse) through his EPIC remix of “The Longest Road” by Morgan Page, I had no idea this man was capable of topping himself there. I have never been more wrong. Random Album Title is the culmination of the decade’s foray into electronic music. It fuses house, electro, minimalism, dubstep and arguably any other tag you want to throw out there. Bass is this man’s middle name, and he crushes eardrums and hearts alike with such gems as “Slip,” “Brazil,” “I Remember” – I’ll stop naming tracks because there isn’t one on here that’s not worth it’s own paragraph. The most original and unique sounding electronic album this decade (ever?), Random Album Title is the answer to any naysayer who says they can’t understand the appeal of lyric-less music. Immense.

Key track: “Slip”

4) Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it In People (2002)
The rotating cast of characters in Broken Social Scene, the Canadian band at the heart of the Arts & Crafts label, means a constant dose of new energy and new sounds. Throughout YFIIP, the band’s second and best album, the songs ring with a sense of creative unity, but at the same time, you can often hear the disagreement amongst instruments. But this lack of togetherness in the traditional sense is what gives the album its unique charm. Part shoe-gaze, part jam-band and part ethereal-rock, You Forgot it in People is every indie-kid’s golden egg. Without it, we wouldn’t know how to express our emotions with the sincerity and emo-ness that defines us. This album did more to soundtrack my life—it helped teach me how to feel. Beat that, Coldplay.

Key track: “Anthems For a Seventeen Year Old Girl”

3) LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (2006)
The brainchild of multi-talented musician and overall hipster-god James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver is what happens when a brilliant musician is given time, money, and artistic freedom. Released on his own label, Sound of Silver fuses wavy electronic elements with rock anthems to create an intimate, personal and instantly lovable sound. The mid-album combo of “Someone Great” and “All My Friends” just might be the most killer back-to-back track listing in all of music. Murphy finishes the album by stripping away all the other elements that he hid behind before; on “New York, I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down,” it’s only his voice leading a soft piano far behind him. At his most vulnerable state, we finally see the man behind the mask, the hero behind Sound of Silver—and after this rollercoaster of an album is done, we take a deep breath and tip our hat to the man who just gave us a lifetime of music in only fifty-six minutes.

Key track: “All My Friends”

2) Radiohead – Kid A (2001)
My complete indulgence—nay—mania—nay—obsession with all things Radiohead came into full swing about three years ago. After years of “not getting them,” I spent one solitary night alone with headphones on listening to OK Computer, and it was like getting hit in the face by a brick wall. I soon moved on to their following album, the 2001 electronic-fused Kid A. Whoaaaa. That was probably my first reaction upon hearing the opening chambers of “Everything in its Right Place.” Thom Yorke’s signature, melodic yelp echoes behind a synthesizer that in no way, shape, or form can be from this planet. On “The National Anthem,” a thundering bass-line propels the song again into outer space, and only further disconnects from Earth at the orchestral breakdown. How has no one thought of those four simple chords before! This is an album made for humans by creatures that have seen the light from somewhere far beyond. You will never hear an album described as sounding like Kid A because that’s simply not possible. Trying to describe this album is like trying to describe sex to a nun; sure, I can explain to you what it feels like, but until you experience it for yourself, you’ll never quite understand the hype. If you happen to be a nun (i.e., have not heard this album), I urge you, I beg of you, I’m on my knees praying for you—break your commitment. Listen to Kid A.

Key track: “How to Disappear Completely”

1) Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
No, this is not my number one album of the last ten years because it’s the album that got me into music. No, I don’t uncontrollably break a smile every time the violin opens on “Neighborhood #1.” No, I haven’t written an entire essay on why this is my favorite album of all time for my own personal use and have never shown it to anyone. No, I’m not actually convinced that if I got one wish it would be for me to play the two piano keys that jumpstart “Rebellion” with the band live in concert. I wouldn’t say that this album transcends every other rock record made this decade because no other album has even come close to matching the intensity, the passion, the fire, the wit, the humor, the laugh, the tears, the sadness, the vivacity. No, I wouldn’t say that. It’s not like “Neighborhood #3” has the most spine-chilling and bone-shattering bass-line this side of the year 2000. No, the tribal chanting, earth-shattering and emotionally derailing crescendo on “Wake Up” doesn’t make me want to jump up and celebrate life and love and happiness and eternal ecstasy. I definitely wouldn’t say this album is completely, utterly, entirely, unquestionably and indisputably perfect. No, I don’t have chills writing this right now. No, Funeral has never brought me to tears, unable to decipher just why I’m crying

Oh wait—I mean yes. This is the album of our generation.

Key track: “Rebellion (Lies)”

h1

Riot!

November 3, 2009

riot-at-un-conference

What’s electro without that innate feeling of destruction? Listen to Boys Noize, Justice, MSTRKRFT or any other festival headlining act and there’s an undeniable sense of chaos. Have you ever seen kids throw down at a Bloody Beetroots show? It’s almost as if…wait for it… it’s a riot. Designer Drugs‘ new thunderous gem of that very name is sure to send attendees into a violent frenzy the next time this wonder of an electro-jam hits the speakers. It’s got everything you’d want out of your next anthem– heavy bass, an epic build-up, and even a creepy “circus-gone-wrong” interlude that begs for a remix. Don’t bother– this is bliss.

Designer Drugs – “Riot”