Archive for the ‘Electronic’ Category

British trio The xx formed back in 2005, and first came onto the scene in 2009 with their debut album, xx. Romy Madley Croft provides vocals and guitar; Oliver Sim, vocals and bass; Jamie Smith, beats and production. They followed up with 2012’s sublime, Coexist, and most recently 2016’s work of art, I See You. Here’s why you need them in your life.

The Sound: It’s subtle, nuanced, echoing each and every feeling they express, without being distracting. It perfectly sets up the mood for each track, knowing when to quiet down, and when to pick things up. It’s so meticulously and purposefully placed in each track, such that each note, each strum, each pluck of a string, each inflection, each beat has a specific place in the song; nothing is superfluous. It doesn’t fit in any particular genre, having flecks of indie rock and dance; hints of pop and electronic; plenty of confessional tones. The beats, guitar and bass shimmer so brightly together, the resulting music comes off in such a way that, no other version of the song will ever make sense. Their sound is incomparable, inimitable, and frankly deserves to be a genre all on its own.

The Lyrics: One thing to note about The xx, you can’t just have them on in the background. You have to listen to them, and you’ll thank me because what you’ll hear will take you to a place you’ve never been before. You’ll find yourself deep in thought, ruminating over some life event in ways you never have. Each word, each phrase, is so well thought out. Every syllable is in there for a reason, and has a role to play in unfolding the inner workings of Croft and Sim’s minds. They know exactly what to say, and how to say it, and only say what’s necessary to convey their mood; nothing more, nothing less. Like true poets.

The Vocals. There’s nothing outwardly spectacular about their vocals; they don’t do runs, they’re not power houses, they don’t show anything off. They exude just the right amount of force when singing, perfectly exercising control, and not getting carried away. They can be haunting, moving, playful, emotional, thoughtful, on the verge of tears, confident, confused, and everything else you can imagine. They’re honest and vulnerable, and sometimes a total mess on the inside – and it all translates perfectly through their delivery.

The Albums. When you combine their sound, their lyrics and their vocals, this is what you get: a masterpiece that grabs your soul and breaks it apart piece by piece, leaving you empty and broken inside. Then out of nowhere, breathes life right back into you, reviving your soul and making you feel things far beyond what you ever thought possible. I’m not being hyperbolic, they’re just that good. It’s not just a one-off either. Each of their albums is unique in its own way, but still manages to evoke the same senses. If you’ve never seen them live, please do – it’s an experience you’ll  never forget.

 

On top of being an electronic/hip-hop artist, DJ and producer, Kaytranada (aka Louis Kelvin Celestin) can add 2016 Polaris Music Prize winner to his repertoire – even beating out the likes of Drake and The Weeknd. The Polaris Prize may not be well known to most, but it is probably one of the most coveted awards out there, and that’s because it recognizes the best full-length Canadian album, based on artistry – not sales or popularity.

Kaytranada is a Haitian-Canadian artist based out of Montreal. 99.9% is an incredibly accessible album, because it has something for everyone. DJ tracks sans lyrics, so you can appreciate his 70s funk-like beats with new age twists, and also his super-synth 80s vibes.

He fulfills the guest artist quota on several occasions. UK electronic pair AlunaGeorge appears on “Together” giving it just the right amount of soul; Toronto-based hip-hop instrumentalists BadBadNotGood show up on “Weight Off;” Rapper Phonte lends his rhymes on “One Too Many,” which marry well with Kaytranada’s sounds to create a classic dance track. Most notably, however, is the resurgence of R&B sensation Craig David on the instant hit, “Got It Good.”

99.9% takes the listener on a musical journey. It’s the type of album that can get a dance party started and keep it going. It’s the type of album that can be on in the background at a dinner party. Distinct and precise use of sounds and instruments, and a wide range of vocals make it the type of album that suits all tastes and is appropriate for any occasion. If you’re still not convinced of Kaytranada’s musical prowess, the following video should make you doubt no more: a dancing robot, scat singing and a dope beat. Gold.

 

Wild World by Bastille

This UK electronic/rock/pop band first graced us with their presence on 2013’s Bad Blood. A solid debut album showcasing their versatility both musically and lyrically.Lead singer Dan Smith has this innate ability to choose words so carefully and precisely, the listener can’t help but see all his emotions; he paints such a vivid picture. Wild World only continues to showcase their incredible talent, and his voice is as infectious as ever.

Wild World highlights their capacity to depict all life’s situations honestly, using several instruments, exploring all sorts of genres, and uncovering different sounds. “Two Evils” and “An Act of Kindness,” are dark and haunting; “Fake It” and “The Anchor” lean towards pop music, “Way Beyond” echoes much more electronic stylings. They use their music to reach out and connect with an audience, and it’s impossible to turn a deaf ear after hearing what they have to say.

Wild World shows how much Bastille has grown over the last 3 years; how much more they can give, and how far they can go. They’ve managed to stay true to their unique sound, without boring their listeners – a feat only few bands can accomplish.

22, A Million by Bon Iver

Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon) is already a legend in my books. He is one of those artists that can’t be stopped. He writes, produces, sings, does it all – and does it all so well. 22, A Million is set to be released on September 30th of this year, but I managed to get a copy in my hands and I just can’t shut it off.

This album is an experience. A subtle sensory overload, causing mass confusion of the senses, as they’re all ignited at the same time, pulling you in every direction. Your skin tingles, your ears perk up, your eyes want to close so you can fully absorb it all, and your mouth waters because you can taste it. It’s all over your body, then somehow sneaks its way into the pit of your stomach, leaving it both in knots and relieved at the same time.

Vernon’s voice is as ethereal as it gets, even angelic. At first the music just sounds like noise, but when you pay a little closer attention, it hits you – something pretty magical is going on, which just speaks to his ability as a producer (services he has lent to the likings of Kanye West.) His lyrics are esoteric, often revealing layers and layers of meaning and complexity with each listen. Each track has so many elements, so many components, that it takes listen after listen after listen, to truly understand what’s going on, and even then you’re unsure.

22, A Million is one of the (ie my) most anticipated albums this year, and thank goodness Bon Iver is still in the game, creating works of art – we really need it.