Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Brooks Brown: Enchantingly explosive electro

July 13, 2015

Brooks Brown

Yes, the moment I have been waiting for: a summer-ready electronic EP that has the honor of making its way into my car stereo. The new addition is Sidetracked from 17-year-old ambient, trip hop, indie electronica, whatever-genre-you-want-to-file-it-as producer Brooks Brown. Just picture Justin Bieber’s way cooler, low-key electronic producer cousin whose parties are still the raddest Justin has ever been to, and you’ve got somewhat of an idea of the talent we’re talking about here.

The title track, featuring trip hop artist Madi Walsh, has whirling builds iced with elegant drops and even cleaner synth. “Sidetracked” is beautifully eruptive. The sensual melodies are eyes-closing, one-sided-grinning good. To say Walsh’s vocals are mature for her sixteen-year old self would be an embarrassing understatement.

“Countdown” begins like your ears need to pop–a dazed, slow motion feeling. Hand clapping breaks up the blurriness and builds anticipation for what is ecstasy in electronic drop form. It dips down into something just as ambient, continuing to get heavier, fatter, thicker. Between sharp synth and carnival ride twinkling, I imagined a clip from a college-version Project X: a hotel party’s slow-motion pillow fight with feathers flying, champagne flowing in red solo cups, the whole bit.

If “Countdown” is the party banger track, then “Lights Out” is the 4 a.m. buzzy trance song that appears at the same time as the early morning dew. It has patient builds that take their time, and with Brown’s casually flirtatious lyrics like, “Baby girl, I’m in my zone/Come get next to me,” it’s a steamy track that doesn’t try too hard.

Continuing along this sonic nighttime-into-morning journey, “Awake” is a slow-to-rise track, playing like an alarm set to meditation music. It’s the type of song you smoke, shower, and brew something to. Mellow electronic texturing and a care-free, feel-good buzz makes this the smoothest on Sidetracked.

After listening to Sidetracked my only question is: Brooks Brown, where can I get this on vinyl? This deserves more than the personal nightclub that is my car stereo. Brown’s EP is effortlessly, enchantingly explosive, adding so many electronic elements that it would be silly to categorize it when you could spend that whole time enjoying four dynamite tracks. —Rachel Haney

 

Oh So Summery

May 7, 2014

It’s getting better and better outside, so my ears are getting more and more attuned to those summery tunes.

Oh So Summery

1. “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!” – Kishi Bashi. He’s on Joyful Noise Recordings, which sounds like a 100% perfect fit. This ridiculously happy and catchy tune will get stuck in your head. HAPPY SUMMER Y’ALL.

2. “Sweater Weather” – Challenger. If John Ross gets any more inspired by the ’80s, I’ll have to start questioning where he’s hiding his time machine. But for now, enjoy this blissed-out synth-pop, complete with gated snares and stuttering percussion fills.

3. “Dead Man’s Pose” – Old Smokey. Almost as excited as Kishi Bashi is Old Smokey, a folky outfit that features no guitars but 3000% enthusiasm. This is not your average folk: brass and clarinet counter throughout when the members of the band aren’t group-hollering. It’s just wonderful.

4. “Let’s Get Started” – Dylan Gardner. OH SUMMER YOU ARE ALMOST HERE. I will celebrate you with a guitar-pop tune by a flop-haired teenager with pop chops. I only thought of Hanson like once. Mostly the Beatles. But some Hanson. No Bieber though.

5. “Halo” – DamnRight! There’s always room in my heart for chillwave-inspired electro fun.

6. “I Spy” – Michael McFarland. I love Train, so take this as nothing but a compliment when I say that this track falls somewhere between Train and old-school Guster.

7. “Old Foes” – Yaquina Bay. Orchestral folk is not generally known for its easygoing vibe, but Yaquina Bay creates just such a mood here.

8. “Morning Light” – Andrew Judah. I’m not sure how Judah came up with the idea to get steel drums and banjo together, but it sounds incredible. I am extremely excited for this upcoming record–it promises to bend genres all over the places.

9. “Terrible Love” – Moda Spira. Latifah Phillips takes a different angle on The National’s slow-burner, but it’s no less dramatic or powerful at the end.

10. “Right In My Arms” – Exzavier Whitley. Like early Iron & Wine, this is deeply calming fingerstyle guitar that cares more about the mood than perfection of performance. Gorgeous work.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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