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Tusks – Burn

June 26, 2014

Tusks is out this week with one of the more heartfelt, emotional chamber pop records I’ve heard in a while. Her music is definitely electronic in nature, but in tracks like “Burn” you can hear how she utilizes elements from a range of different genres. With a nice piano melody as a foundation, Tusks, aka Emily Underhill, complements it well with a dreamy soundscape of background harmonies and her own lush vocals. And while she’s somewhat new to the scene with this debut EP, it’s easy to imagine Tusks becoming the next big dream pop sensation if she continues to put out records with this much quality and substance.

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Child Actor – Against The Night

June 17, 2014

Based on the quality of their work, I would have figured the dreamy electro duo Child Actor would’ve been an international sensation by now alongside other similar acts like Purity Ring and Young Wonder. To me it’s not really a matter of if it’s going to happen, but when for the young and ever-so gifted Max Heath and Natalie Plaza. They’ve got a follow up to my second favorite LP of 2012, Victory, that’s obviously one of my most anticipated on the year. We got our first glimpse at what’s in store with the release of the new single “Against The Night”. Not that I was expecting anything less, but this most recent offering does nothing but amp up my excitement for a record I, quite frankly, am expecting a hell of lot from. And If it’s anything as good as this euphoric, synth pop gem then their sophomore LP Never Die is set up to be one of the best on the year.

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Blackbird Blackbird – Feel It In My Bones

June 5, 2014

Perhaps the most consistent electronic producer over the last four or so years has been Blackbird Blackbird. His 2010 debut Summer Heart was one of the first records to get the chillwave genre in motion, and if you haven’t heard it yet I really couldn’t emphasize it enough. He’s back this week with his third LP titled Tangerine Sky that I am really starting to get a feel for on my second go-around. While almost all 12 tracks bring something fresh to the table, the one I seem to keep coming back to is “Feel It In My Bones”. It starts out with a nice arpeggiated synth groove, but it really gets going when that dreamy guitar melody kicks in to compliment it — and I especially love the shift back to the bass line around 2:40 that adds a whole nother element to this already gorgeous track. So while Blackbird Blackbird has already cemented himself as one of my favorite electronic acts, it’s great to see him continue to push the boundaries of his work with a record as exceptional as Tangerine Sky.

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Owen Pallett – I Am Not Afraid

May 27, 2014

I credit Owen Pallett for helping to get my foot in the door of the indie music scene many years ago. I still remember hearing and falling completely in love with “This is the Dream of Win and Regine”, one of my favorite tracks still to this day. Now when I first discovered this absurdly talented loop violinist, he went by the moniker Final Fantasy, but due to some video game copyright issues he made the switch to his birthname, Owen Pallett. And while 2010 saw one of the best years in music ever, it was Pallett’s Heartland that might have stuck out above all the rest.

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It’s the way he bridges strings, synths, and his strangely compelling lyrics all into one that distinguishes this Canadian artist from the rest. And with that, I was beyond excited to get my hands on his sophomore LP as Owen Pallett, In Conflict. The opening track “I am Not Afraid” tackles some dark existentialist themes, but as the title demonstrates, this is really more of an uplifting song about the acceptance of self. As is with most of Pallett’s work, I forsee this record taking many, many listens before it can be fully understood and appreciated — but even at just a couple times through it’s safe to say that In Conflict is one of my favorite new records on the year.

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Hayden Calnin – Coward

May 22, 2014

Hayden Calnin has already made quite the name for himself with his 2012 debut EP City. Since then he’s done some nice collabos with acts like Tully On Tully and Oliver Tank, but what I’ve been really waiting for is a follow up record from this talented Australian dreamfolk act. When I got my hands on his sophomore EP Oh, Hunter, I was honestly surprised that it fully lived up to my high expectations as most records this year quite frankly haven’t. It starts off with one of my new favorite tracks on the year, “Coward”, that’s got quite an epic cinematic feel to it. I’m sure he’s heard plenty of the Bon Iver references already, but I don’t think anyone’s going to complain about being coupled with one of the finest modern folk acts of our time. I presume a debut LP is in the works as well, and if it’s even half as good as the stuff Hayden’s come up with at this point, it’s bound to establish him as one of Australia’s most promising new acts.

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Chromeo – Old 45’s

May 13, 2014

It’s taken Chromeo a good decade to reach the superstar status that they’re at today. Maybe people weren’t ready for their guitar-based disco funk sound until now, but whatever the reason it’s good to see them getting some well-deserved international acclaim. With singles as epic as “Come Alive” and “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”, the hype behind their new album White Women is justified even if it might not fully live up to it. Still, there’s one track in particular that stood out among the rest as something quite special. “Old 45’s”, like many of Chromeo’s tracks, manages to maintain a degree of sincerity while still providing that superficial pop sound we know and love from them. It’s one of those tracks that, by the time the chorus rolls around, you know you’ve got an instant classic on your hands. So while I might not love every track on the new record, tunes as great as “Old 45’s” are one’s I’ll be coming back to often as we make our way into the warmer weather months.

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Yeah Boy – Take It All

May 7, 2014

I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions how many new and talented electro-RnB based acts have been emerging in recent years. The most recent of the batch would be London’s Years & Years, but today I’m here to talk about another great and somewhat similar-sounding artist by the name of Yeah Boy. His new track “Take It All” is my favorite from the genre since Years & Years put out their absolutely epic track “Real” earlier this year. This one’s got the perfect combination of soul, funk, and that lush RnB feel that’s been in such high demand as of late. And while the production value is top notch, it might be Yeah Boy’s, aka Johnny Castro’s wonderful vocal skills that really sets this track apart. Coming through with such a killer debut makes a bit more sense after learning that Castro is actually one half of the already well-established electro outfit Parachute Youth. I presume we’ll be hearing a lot more from Yeah Boy as people get a hold of tracks as great as “Take It All”.

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Money – Bluebell Fields

May 6, 2014

I have to say I didn’t expect one of my favorite (American) releases of the year so far to be MONEY’s debut LP The Shadow Of Heaven. Competing with the likes of Beck and Wild Beasts’ new albums, that’s a tough task, but that’s exactly how I felt after getting through their new one earlier this morning. Frankly, I’m not exactly sure how to classify this UK four-piece, but for the sake of this write-up I’m going to label them as cerebral guitar pop. And that’s the thing about these guys, it’s obvious that they’re going for way more than your superficial pop record. Each track has a kind of substance to it that you simply can’t forge. Track’s like “Bluebell Fields” that’s got one of the more beautiful guitar melodies I’ve heard all year. And while you definitely shouldn’t neglect other great releases from this week, I suggest you reserve a little extra time to fully process all that MONEY’s The Shadow Of Heaven has to offer.

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DWNTWN – Heroine

April 29, 2014

The last few years we’ve seen a bunch of bands emerging with that abbreviated, all caps look like MSTRKRFT and STRFKR. But perhaps my favorite of these (mostly) electro-pop acts is that of LA’s DWNTWN. They’re already past the point of established with wonderful synth-pop singles under their belt like “Transition” and “Stood Me Up”, and they’re finally back with a brand new self-titled EP out today. With this new record you’ll notice a subtle shift to a chiller realm of electronic music with even a few hints of the folk genre if you listen hard enough. Tracks like “Heroine”, though, are as gorgeous as they are powerful as we hear vocalist Jamie Leffler sing about the passing of a parent and the impact it can have on a child. So while you’re sifting through all of today’s new album releases be sure to delve into DWNTWN’s new one which seems primed to boost them from notable dance-pop four-piece to mainstream powerhouse.

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Boy In A Movie – Change You

April 3, 2014

You’d think my biggest music discovery day would tend to fall on Tuesdays, but that seems to never be the case. Perhaps I’ve got a bias for the underdog, but the general theme for this year seems to involve the big names falling short while the lesser known acts step into the spotlight. Acts like Boy In A Movie whom I discovered only a few hours ago has been blowing me away all morning with his debut Feel EP. This London producer seems intent on blending an array of different genres and sounds together, but what he forms is one of the more complete EPs I’ve got my hands on this year. “Change You” is the kind of track that’s filled with a sort of unconditional positivity. The kind of song you come back to when nothing else seems to lighten your mood. If you’re reading this blog daily then you’re probably aware that I tend to hype up every act I come across, but in cases like Boy In A Movie all you’ve really got to do is press play to see for yourself why I’m so high on this emerging talent.

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