Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

February Electronic Singles: Mi Amore

February 16, 2016

1. “Nu Erotic Ghost” – Stray Echo. Swinging sweetly high, then dipping into pools of sticky low, “Nu Erotic Ghost” is a bedroom track bound to set your Valentine’s night aflame in the most soulful way possible.

2. “Say A Prayer For Me” – RÜFÜS DU SOL. This reminds me of a track that would be played during a Bora Bora beach DJ set in Ibiza. With easygoing, chill-step soundscapes and relaxing vocals that simultaneously pump euphoria into the air, “Say A Prayer For Me” has positive vibes riding in each note.

3. “Perfect Ten” – NEWTIMERS. A minimal, seductive R&B/pop combo brought to you by a sizzling Swedish duo. With purposeful percussion and smooth vocals that take their time, NEWTIMERS spaces out each lovely element in this track so that listeners can appreciate every. single. detail.

4. “Midnight” – Lane 8. The next time you’re driving and feel the need to enter a trance of melody, calm, and pure spellbound stupification, pick this ambient electronic jam as your soundtrack. Hit play just as you’re rounding the corner and have a view of mountains, the ocean, or any vastness.

5. “Modern World” – Future Elevators. Whirling, trippy instrumentation and hollow vocals echoing fantasies of living in a modern world, this sexy track is distant, beautiful, at times sad, but mostly sounds like it was recorded in another galaxy.

6. “Needs ft. Andrew Ashong” – Submotion Orchestra. I always appreciate a song that is comfortable with its pacing and “Needs” is just that; it blossoms as you listen, from meditative guitar lines and stunning electronica into jazzy, festive piano and horn sections.

7. “Burn” – James Supercave. Walking a sharp line of psych pop and unmistakable groove, James Supercave has meticulously picked the ripest fruit from each genre, with Passion Pit-esque vocals, Cake funkiness, and a clean, light buzz.

8. “Harmony” – Joel Wells. Combining dizzying, 120-proof dancefloor rhythm with anise-flavored synth, “Harmony” is absinthe in song form.

9. “The Best You Ever Had (feat. Gorilla Zoe)” – Teddybears Rock. With jumpy rhythm, scattering synth, and bits of trap-tinged vocals, “The Best You Ever Had” is what I imagine LMFAO tried to go for.

10. “Run Like Hell” – Alex Bent + the Emptiness. Too spaced out to be a mash-up, but daring enough to combine Wu-Tang and Nine Inch Nails in a single track, “Run Like Hell” is dark, different, and captivating.  

11. “Ratnapur” – At The Psychedelic Circus. “Ratnapur” sounds like the background music at an ayahuasca brewing ceremony.

12. “14” – Kilmanjaro. “14” flashes, shines, and sparkles like an astral lighthouse on a dark waterfront, if the lighthouse beamed streams of cobalt, lime-green, and purple; a lightshow on the ocean.

13. “Rayon” – Letherette. Crisp, chilled, classic house track that will hopefully be lobby music come 2020.

14. “Phone” – Tom Low. Fresh and bright, “Phone” merges modern-day electronic with vocals that sound like the Beatles are making an appearance on this Liverpool native’s title cut.

15. “Reminder” – Moderat. From Moderat’s upcoming EP Reminder, this title track is known to cause lucid dreaming, mysterious fires, sudden time lapses, and severe goosebumps. Proceed with caution.

16. “Maquinaria del Tiempo” – Whitney Winston. Labeled as LatinTronic, this track is experimental, ambient, and has enough Spanish vocals that “Maquinaria del Tiempo” is an example of how electronic can be manipulated and formed to meet any culture’s profile.

17. “Matadora” – Sofi Tukker. Tukker pushes the boundaries of electronic like she’s the Hierophant of the whole genre, slipping us tracks of pure mystic gold and letting her wise artistry show the world how magical electronic can be. Now that I know “LatinTronic” is a thing, we need that label slapped all over this hot, steaming, brimming-with-life track.

18. “New” – Fontine. “New” moves like thick sludge, wrapping itself around your waistline and steering you to dance. It is intense and heavy, an unstoppable dance pop force you’re hypnotized to give into. —Rachel Haney

The Final Electrovibrations of 2015

January 1, 2016

1. “Undercover” – Lane 8 (feat. Matthew Dear). How can one not resist the amorous Matthew Dear lyrics, “Dancing with you, undercover/Feels like there are no more lovers, lovers, lovers, left to discover”? This beautifully melodic house track embodies that magnetic energy pulsating between your mouth and the person’s lips you’re desperately trying not to kiss.

2. “World Away” – Kasbo. There are some songs in which the artist has injected emotion of the highest degree. Kasbo’s ambient, thrilling, intoxicating “World Away” is just that; the drops literally take your breath away, and the pulse pulls and pushes all at once.

3. “Turn Your Back” –  Colder (Patrice Bäumel Remix). I imagine my alien abduction to sound like this: a nebula of disorienting static and electronic pulsing that jolts me towards a black hole of deep house, where I’ll likely never return.

4. “Claim” – Jojee. “You don’t want my heart/You just want to claim me,” Jojee sings over catchy, indie pop that automatically enlists this track in the army of college ladies’ pre-game ballads.

5. “Step 2001” – Wiley feat. Zomby. If you have yet to listen to UK-based rapping, this should be the track to take that virginity. With industrial-sounding production that pops and grinds, like gun shots in a videogame, and tarantula-like vocals that dart with alarming speed, this is grime at its finest.

6. “Baila Como Yo” – District 78. Does this belong in the opening credits of a Western spoof, or a trap-inspired, Latin dance party? “Baila Como Yo” is like a Dillon Francis moombahton track during a birthday party, but with a piñata bursting open with bass when it drops to the floor.

7. “Take Two” – Dave Eleanor feat. Marena Whitcher. If you have a fetish for ____ pauses and heavyweight bass music, you’ve found your match in the slow-mo, dim-lit rattlesnake ring with “Take Two.”

8. “Someone in the Sky” – AFFKT feat. Sutja Gutierrez. Dizzying, disco-like vocals, and lively piano over a techno beat somehow gave me the best song deja vu I’ve ever experienced. It was like I heard this in a dream before…

9. “Kimono” – Submotion Orchestra. “Kimono” sounds like droplets dripping and ricocheting within a vibrating, electronic cylinder; majestic, wind-chilled, and mysteriously exotic; an electronic rainstorm. 

10. “On the Shore” – Luke Top. With brawny, retro-styled vocals similar to The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, Luke Top’s dream-pop track should be served chilled with a lime.

11. “The Parade” – Band of Gold. Alternative, Norweigan duo Band Of Gold radiates supreme optimism in this catchy, ‘90s-esque anthem. With a theme about determinedly “getting to the core,” this track should accompany your drunken scribbling of New Year resolutions.

12. “Love Dies” – Club 8. From the newly-released album Pleasure, “Love Dies” glimmers with a spacey pop sound, teenage nostalgia gliding through effortless female vocals, and a lullaby beginning that, instead of building, stays elegantly reserved in high altitude.

13. “Occasional Magic” – Yppah (Ulrich Schnauss Remix). Lush, frond leaf-type music, perfect for soaking in the natural hot springs of Costa Rica or lighting up in the comfort of your back patio, “Occasional Magic” twinkles and pulses with gorgeously hydrated sounds.

14. “Magic Johnson” – Max Graef & Glenn Astro. From the recently-released Magic Johnson, this throbbing title track has a Flying Lotus vibe, with its groovy bass and stylish synth work. The track creates bounciness and a chill-out atmosphere simultaneously.–Rachel Haney

Lane 8’s Rise: Masterful control of deep house moods

July 2, 2015

Lane 8

Rise, from the San Francisco-based producer Lane 8, is a sleek, dreamy gem of a house record. From the emotion-packed pacing to several male and female vocalists to the thought-out track lengths, Lane 8 has taken into consideration every aspect of the listening experience.

The first track, “Loving You,” is a slow-building standout with dazzling, commanding cooing from vocalist Lulu James.  “Are we gonna be here forever/Wrapped up, captivated,” she sings, comparing love to suspension and treading on water as a dance-inducing techno beat escalates. “I’m a fool for love. I’m a fool for loving you,” James confidently proclaims like a man-eating ‘80s R&B/pop singer, launching an uplifting vibe that pulses throughout the album.

“Diamonds” seduces with hollow percussion that drips like wooden rain, contrasting beautifully with the breathy vocals by duo Solomon Grey. The pair is also featured on “Hot As You Want,” where jabbing synth drops in and out between their misty vocals. The lovingly honest lyrics, “You’re all I need, you’re all I need/You’re all I see, you’re all I see,” compliment the driving nature of the track.

Lane 8 incorporates just as many melodic elements as his heavy tonality. “Klara” uses the same dark, steady rhythm and metallic percussion that you’d hear playing in a Roman aperitivo bar. “Cosi” distorts like a VHS tape being rewound, breaking and pausing only to stir back up again. “Sunlight” and “Rise” are other melodic tracks, the title track blending both dreamy vocals and computer synth for an enchanting, upbeat club quality.

On “Ghost,” a galloping beat canters underneath slow piano; emotional vocals from Patrick Baker give it an Odesza feel at first. It ends up weighing in on the blissful side of deep house though, emitting such happy plucks that it could easily go tropical. “All I want is just to feel you/Everything just looks so see-through,” Baker sings like a ballad on this shorter, feel-good track.

“Undercover” also has that versatility to it. Matthew Dear’s raspy vocals, which balance the track’s high-pitched pop synth and progressive house builds, make this a throw-on-repeat song. Dear’s breathtaking vocal presence on “Undercover” shines at a perfect time on the album, reminding you that there’s a calculated journey Rise is taking you on. If a pan flute or sax was added, this could be a tropical house track ready to lick salt and squeeze limes.

The best way to describe Rise is versatile, like the multi-purpose cleaner of house records, except a lot sexier than that. Lane 8 hits on many varying aspects of deep house, all while staying loyal to his clean, heavy style and proving, once again, that the man masters mood. —Rachel Haney

June Video Playlist

July 1, 2015

I don’t usually do this, but I have so many videos to cover this month (a good problem to have!) that I’ve listed them like I would MP3s. Instead of commenting thoroughly on them, I’ve posted the main takeaway from each video as a description. Enjoy!

1. “Modern Man” – Brian Lopez. Intergenerational friendships are cool.

2. “Ghost (feat. Patrick Baker)” – Lane 8. Love triangles affect even biker clubs.

3. “Something Good” – Dead Sara. If the dancing, the camerawork, and the song all evoke the same era, it’s gonna be a fun video.

4. “Cops Don’t Care, pt II” – Fred Thomas. Concepts as simple as “hey, pour tons of sprinkles on me in slow-motion” can work in the right conditions.

5. “Magnifying Glass” – Girlpool. Sometimes the right conditions for a simple concept is a 36-second song.

6. “Hold Up For” – The Silver Lake Chorus. There are still clever concepts that keep me watching a video to find out what’s going on.

7. “Frayed” – Waterstrider. You can make a rad dance video out of 40,000 still images stitched together.

8. “Underwood Milk” – Kieran Leonard. Self-aware, self-deprecating humor is still very funny.

9. “Secret Friend” – Grounders. You can make a trippy, abstract video really interesting (I’m not sure what the formula is, but they make it work here).

10. “Broken Bones” – Daycare for Jedi. Somewhere in my heart, there’s an small but undying flame for the exaggerated enthusiasm and adrenalized pogoing of the pop-punk performance video.

11. “Pink Blossoms” – Connecting Stars. I am a sucker for a sad, romantic song and video.

12. “Dancing Star” – Lilies on Mars. Digital modeling is way cool.

13. “Moony Eyed Walrus” – Cayucas. It is difficult to surf in a redwood forest.

Bits and Bobs: Electro

May 9, 2015

Bits and Bobs: Electro

1. “Too Deep in Love” – Kylie Odetta. Post-modern pop that mashes hip-hop and torch song, electro jam and walking-speed diva pop tune. It’s an infectious blend.

2. “Tide Teeth” – Night Beds. So I didn’t expect Night Beds to go all electro-soul on us, but he’s cranking out the sensuous slow jamz here.

3. “Kindred” – Red Cosmos. Smeary synths, staccato percussion, perky treble melodies and dour vocals create a unique space somewhere between dream-pop and downtempo psych-rock.

4. “Khazé” – Mune. That moment where post-punk was turning into new wave (which would soon birth synth-pop) was a hazy phaze where energy and lackadaisical dreaming seemed to coexist. Mune gets that.

5. “Aftergold” – Big Wild. Electro doesn’t always have to feature big, walloping synths: “Aftergold” relies on strings, plunky marimba, uncomplicated beats, and burbling vocals to create an energizing, impressive track.

6. “ Ghost ft. Patrick Baker” – Lane 8. Artsy electro drawing off trance and funk instead of dubstep is a welcome thing in my book. This tune never has a major drop, and that’s 100% cool with me.

7. “Away – Reptile Youth. The Flaming Lips dabble in electronic music, but Reptile Youth puts the creaky, eccentric, cosmic vibes that the lips peddle firmly into the electro milieu. The vocals of the two outfits are particularly similar.

8. “Amalie” – Colornoise. This track has the sort of mystic, atmospheric vibes that Fleetwood Mac was able to conjure up, only with a bit more ominous, gritty vibe on one end and sweeter vocals on the other.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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