Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bright Light Bright Light - Symmetry of Two Hearts (feat. Elton John)

Whether it's the guest vocals from Elton John or the saxophone or the flat out genius that Rod Thomas has, there is no denying that he can do no wrong. The second official video off his latest release, 'Choreography' is a gorgeous song and the video is amazing as well. "Symmetry of Two Hearts" is probably one of the best out and out pop tunes that I've heard in a while. His lyrics are always brilliant. His voice is one of my all time favorites and he's just a phenomenal songwriter and artist.  Not going to talk anymore, going to let the video do it for me. I'll have a full review of 'Choreography' very soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Rica Shay - Turn This

You may remember Rica Shay from 'Summertime Realness' by Big Dipper. I was a huge fan of him then and all I can say with this new single is GOD DAMN. This song is FIRE. I haven't heard something hit this hard in a long time and from an openly gay rapper. This is the real deal. His flow is so dumb. He is just spitting shit all over this track and my mouth is just open. This is hyper aggro and it's so fucking great. Post Apocalytic Balls are going to use this for Thunderdome style vogue battles. Not old way or new way but the only way. Rica Shay is killed me and I am dead. I am writing this from the other side as he has brought me back and given me life. That bassline. That flow. Those visuals. The video is hot. He's hot. The whole thing. I can't speak any higher than I have. He's is everything.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Jay Arseno - Shine! (DJ Sean Mac Remix)

You know it takes something damn special for me to post a male lead dance track and this remix is something damn special.  Ran across Jay Arseno on the internet today and felt like I needed more of him. So I stalked him across the web and found all the pertinent sites. He's got an amazing voice. Honesty and integrity come shining through on his less dance-type tracks. There's an unrefined beauty to his voice that makes you want to have him there, in front of you, singing.  Like Doug Baron, you can hear how New Orleans has influenced his art. It's earthy and grounded. It's got all these amazing influences like the Delta and it comes together to form this amazing gumbo of audio genius.

So let's talk about this mix. Jay's voice is punctuated with the amazing beat that just throbs and pulses through you. It will make you get up and move your ass.  And the lyrical content is amazing. It's an actual song opposed to something that just has no meaning. If you actually listen to the lyrics, he has something to say and a point of view. That's not something you get at all in the dance industry. You generally just get cotton candy fluff that's meant to get you moving and there's nothing wrong with that but sometimes it's nice to get a little content out of your EDM.

I went back 4 years to listen to the original mix of the song and it's great too. I think that DJ Sean Mac has done an amazing job of taking a song that was already good and accentuating what makes it good while not trampling on the original vision. He's elevated the song into something bigger than the original while paying tribute to what Jay did to begin with. Both versions of this track are pretty incredible.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sondr - Surving (featuring Joe Cleere)

It's apparent that today is about uplifting music that just makes you feel good and remind you that no matter what has come before, you aren't done. You will push through and you will beat whatever it is that is holding you down. And isn't that what music is about? Making you feel something? Pushing you to be something more than what you are. You are stronger today than you were yesterday and you just have to hold on and push just a little bit. We are in this together. We are surviving.

Neilsan - Even If We're Lost

There's something innocent about this song. Something that doesn't come with some prepackaged notion of what it's supposed to be. It's clear and it's direct but it doesn't force itself on you. It just evolves with you along the way. I like how the vocals are punctuated as is they've been programmed into the keys of a Midi Fighter 64 and Neilsan is hitting them at just the right time to clip them in a dramatic fashion. The way that the track flows draws pictures in my mind of some kids lost on an adventure and they wind up in a field of sunflowers. They know they are lost but something just makes it ok that they're out there on their own. The build up is great. It's a fantastic example of what a chill, really freaking cool EDM track should sound like. When the breakdown happens and there's that momentary silence it's like the track is catching it's breath so that it can make the charge over the finish line.

Calum Scott - Dancing On My Own (Robyn cover)

I wrote Calum Scott off a while back but decided I needed to give him another chance. This is the second video he's done for this song and for whatever reason he sounds amazing. There is a haunting quality to his voice and the performance. Maybe it's the treatment with the music video or it's something that makes me appreciate this video much more than his previous version.

He was on Britain's Got Talent and got a Golden Buzzer and went on to finish 6th. I don't necessarily hear a middle of the road singer here. I here someone that's got a bit of mileage on him. Someone that's been kicked around a bit. It's a good cover and I can't wait to hear what he's got in store as a solo artist with a recording career.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

X Ambassadors - Unsteady (Dance Video)

"Love is love is love is love is love is love..." - Lin-Manual Miranda

This video is a powerful visual representation of what it's like to want to express what you feel toward someone in public but can't. I realize that there are many heterosexuals in the world that won't partake in public displays of affection but this is different. It's not that we, as gay men and women, don't want to; in some instances it can prove to be deadly or violent. So you see the person that means the world to you for the first time that day and you want to hold them, but you can't. So you go through it all on the inside. You process your feelings and you are still left longing and wanting more. This happens every day, every hour; around the world and until we are all equal - this will continue to happen.

So thank you X Ambassadors for this beautiful video. They say art reflects and represents life and this is a beautiful reminder that while we may not be able to love openly and freely, there are those people in this world that are more than willing to help us make it a little more steady.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Michael Carrera - Sound Sessions: EP7

I don't often write about house music that's been put together in the format of a DJ set or a podcast or a broadcast that would happen in a bar or a club because as much as I like that music, the blog has been mostly used to disseminate music that's more traditional. Verse, chorus, verse kind of stuff. But you'll run across a set every now and then and you need to talk about it. Because sometimes it's bigger than the sum of its parts or sometimes it's just what you need to hear at that moment in time. With this track and this artist, I think it's a mix of both. And don't ever think that I don't feel this is a valid art form because this takes as much or more work than recording a song.

In most cases, the producer has to build the structure of the track and make sure that he/she has a clear enough vision to stretch for however long their set is. Now, a lot of times...these things are preprogrammed so that the dj pretty much just pushes a button on a laptop and there you go. Clubs and venues and events don't like that. So much so that many places are banning "laptop djs" from preforming.  Other times, the stuff happens on the fly with actual mixing and building the set as the artist goes. This track is one of those. This is something that the producer had in mind but as he was going, he was laying the track down a piece at a time.  This is "Sound Sessions Ep. 7" by Michael Carrera. Michael is an LA based artist, born and raised, and you can listen to the careful crafting of this track and hear how music is his life. It's put together in such a way that once you get started, there's no stopping. It lifts your spirits and just makes you feel good.

I think that's one of the things I never talk enough about dance music. The purpose of it is the same as any other music. It's there to make you feel good. To make you feel good and to connect you with the people you are sharing a dance floor with. It elevates your mood, gets your endorphins going and makes you forget everything while you're dancing. It's that artist's responsibility to make sure that you don't have a reason to stop dancing and Michael has done that here. You've got the lulls in the pace that allow you to slow down and step side to side and catch your breath before you start back at it. You spin back up on your heels and keep the grind going.  With each break, he turns it up a little more to keep you going. Then when it gets about 39 minutes in and the rap verse starts - you can't help but not move. I think he was amazingly smart by waiting this long into the set to put vocals. Sure there are some audible speaking parts earlier but this is really the first real verse in the song. You've invested into the rhythm he's created. You've given yourself to him, body and soul and now the words are pushing the beat into you more and more. You belong to him for the length of this set.

And to think that he's done this live. This is a live set where he was putting this all together on the fly. And if he can do that, you should hear what else he's done.  I get that this is a two year old track but that's another piece of magic. House music is timeless. There's nothing that's tying this to a specific time and place. You play this in a club 2 years ago - people dance. You play it 2 years from now - people dance.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Paul Middleton - Edge Of Glory (DJ Chris Spear Remix)

It's really cool when you're digging through the bins, as it were, and you run across a gem that you didn't know existed. About a year ago, DJ Chris Spear was asked to do a remix of a cover for Paul Middleton.  If you don't know Paul, click here but come back.  Paul is this big, beautiful bloke from England that has this amazingly earthy voice that just makes you close your eyes and sigh a deep sigh.  He recorded 2 albums, 'Covers' and 'Covers 2' and donated proceeds to cancer research. So one of the songs that he wanted to do was "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga and needed to have a Paul Middleton spin on it. So Chris was contacted to do this mix where everything was slowed down, stripped down, and put back together into something better than it was before.

Gaga's anthem was a bit manic compared to this slowed down version of the song. This version has a bit more longing to it. Yes, I am right here with you. I am on the Edge....but at what cost? What have I given up to stand here with you...the world against us and no where to turn. It's just you and me now and this better be worth it.  The slow melodic track that Chris has created is the driving force behind this. True, Paul's vocal take on the song is the art in the frame that Chis built but the track is even more important than a frame for a painting. One misstep in the production of the track can send everything horribly off the rails and take the whole song down with it. But the thought that was put into the choices he continues to make in his music stand the test of time. He's incredibly intelligent when it comes to tempo and speed. There's something smooth and super silky about this. Almost like silk gliding across steel springs. Something powerful right underneath but a layer of delicate beauty is right on top.

The build ups are slow and methodical. There's a calculated risk to the notes in their placement of the overall track. The tone is set right off the bat and it doesn't take you too far away from where Chris wants you to be. You're just causally sauntering through the song at an easy pace that is just easy. It's very much inline with the new breath that has been breathed into this track. It's not raucous and bawdy like the original was.  There's a bit of digital trickery on Paul's vocals (specifically on"...feel the rush") that adds his really cool metallic vibe every now any then. It's not like they've been digitally cleaned, just a bit of an automatic, robotic feel.

I really love this track and I think that it's an amazing counterpoint to what Gaga did. It's the comedown after she's run you ragged.