Let me know what you think, and subscribe to get new music updates emailed to you every week! → → → → → → → → → →
Well, it’s been a while! Grad school is not as conducive to blogging as I’d hoped, but I am going to try and keep posting when I can find the time. Below, find a selection of (relatively) new music that I’ve been listening to and enjoying over the past four months.
Check out the “SoundSimilar” selections under each category for two additional songs in the same genre, and SHARE THE MUSICAL FOOD!
I CAN BE INDIE TOO
– Member/s: Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen
– Genre: Pop/Pop Rock
– Location/Formed: Manchester, UK/1990
“THESE DAYS”: After listening to this song, would you guess that these guys have been around for more than twenty years? Not that there’s anything wrong with older musicians…but this track definitely has a modern, sleek, dance-floor-meets-indie-rock-hall vibe that is extremely apropos for the times, as well as highly enjoyable.
This is due to the fact that it’s produced by Greg Kurstin, of Lily Allen, Katy Perry, Ellie Goulding, and P!nk acclaim. Kurstin brings shiny pop to the forefront alongside a series of syncopated indie guitar lines reminiscent of Bad Suns’ “Salt.”
Though perhaps the lyrics sound a bit like an aging parrot with a bad case of nostalgia (“Tonight we gotta live/We gotta live for these days/Tonight, tonight, we’ll remember/We’ll remember these days”), the track has a rippling pop melody and expansive chorus that should brighten up anyone’s day.
NUTSHELL: A hook-laden track tinged with indie-rock sensibilities, “Take That” is as much out-and-out feel-good music as it is a reinvention.
AND THE BEAT GOES ON
– Member/s: Tamar Lacel Dillard (yep, Flo Rida)
– Genre: Hip-hop/Electro-dance/Hip-house
– Location/Formed: Florida, USA/2006
“GDFR”: So many of the songs this week could fit into the Pop Confession slot…or maybe they should all just have “Confession” tagged on to the end of their category names. Either way, “GDFR” was just too much fun to be missed on this week’s blog.
Sure, Flo Rida has had his flops recently (anyone remember “Sweet Spot”? Good.), but this single, which is currently unattached to a larger project, reminds us why we all fell in love with him way back with “Low.”
With a decent rap verse from Sage the Gemini, “GDFR” manages to be hard-hitting and pop-pleasing all at once. Hope you have your dance shoes ready.
NUTSHELL: Featuring club-ready beats and a Jason Derulo-esque bluesy woodwind riff-of-a-chorus, “GDFR” is the perfect addition to your workout dance playlist…but then again, maybe that’s just me.
– Member/s: Nicholas Petricca, Kevin Ray, Sean Waugaman, Eli Maiman
– Genre: Indie-Rock/Indie-Pop/Dance-Rock
– Location/Formed: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA/2008
“SHUT UP AND DANCE”: Okay so this one was supposed to be on the blog way back in September when it came out, but alas, now I’ll be getting it to you all probably after you’ve heard it on the radio, etc. Still, it’s way too much fun not to include on this resurgent blog post!
With a little bit of ’80s funk thrown in the indie-pop mix, “Shut Up and Dance” delivers a robust helping of chorus-chanting, soaring electronic guitars, and some
legit/rad/stellar hipster lyrics – “My discotheque, Juliet, teenage dream.”
Jangling guitars and retro synths round out the falsetto-laden track, which could just propel Walk the Moon into alt-pop stardom.
NUTSHELL: “Shut Up and Dance” is my sing-along, hands in the air, driving with the windows down (but don’t because it’s January) feel-good track of the week.
SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS)
– Member/s: Remmi
– Genre: Singer-Songwriter/Pop
– Location/Formed: Nashville, TN, USA/2014
“CAPABLE”: This track is the perfect synthesis of pop and singer-songwriter sensibilities. Heartfelt lyricism and earnest vocals (a la Olga Yagolnikov from Kye Kye) are paired with a heady electro-drum-beat (a la “Waiting Game” by Banks), the combination of which is pure gold.
What’s especially cool about Remmi (besides this kick-a$$ song) is that she is a self-desecribed “producer and songmaker” – so all the layered elements that you enjoy in “Capable” in addition to the vocals were done by her as well.
Look for more in the coming months – she should have an EP out next month!
NUTSHELL: With a brooding, sultry quality, Remmi’s vocals stand out against a stark, electro-industrial background in this elusively seductive debut single.
– Member/s: Jaymes McFarland
– Location/Formed: Seattle, Washington, USA/2013
“I’LL BE GOOD”: You really can’t go wrong with Jaymes Young’s music; everything he puts out seems to be a perfect hybrid of singer-songwriter-focused electronica. My only concern is: why hasn’t he released a full length album by now? If you’re reading this, Jaymes, we are ready – it’s time.
The track is all about facing up to faults and promising more in the future, and so the introspective verses and a plaintive chorus are matched by a moody beat and a fiery minor-key guitar progression.
With rich vocal tenacity that fans have come to love and new listeners will quickly fall for, Young brings out the anthemic in this sombre but fully-charged ballad.
NUTSHELL: “I’ll Be Good” is everything you could ever want in a song: sleek vocals, a wonderful downtempo beat, and string accents – I’m happy.
– Member/s: Ben Fletcher, Tom Higham
– Genre: Singer-Songwriter/Electronica
– Location/Formed: Lancashire, UK/2013
“I GAVE IT ALL”: “I Gave It All” is one of those tracks I loved the first time I heard it. A somewhat hypnotizing mix of downtempo electronica and moody singer-songwriter vibes, the song crashes in upon itself as it evolves, sending a wave of cascading harmonies and shimmering backing instruments out over the listener.
The vocals are understated to the point where they almost become just another instrument on the track, an effect which is somewhat difficult to achieve – at least successfully.
With a yearning melody and deliberate pacing, “I Gave It All” is sparse and yet layered, desperate in the face of calm, and overall exquisite.
NUTSHELL: Soft and calm indie-tronica, “I Gave It All” promises good things for Brit duo Aquilo and for all their listeners who crave more dream-like music.
PICK OF THE WEEK
– Member/s: Andrew Taggart, Alex Pall (focusing on The Chainsmokers, obviously)
– Genre: Electro House/Progressive House
– Location/Formed: NYC, USA/2012
“REAL LOVE (THE CHAINSMOKERS REMIX)”: The Chainsmokers have been on the Soundillustrated radar for a while, long before “#Selfie” took over the world; in fact, way back when they were garnering a devoted fan base by remixing excellent indie music (see below for their version of Jonsi’s “Around Us”). Oddly enough, I was revisiting some of their old tunes this past week when I got an email from Drew and Alex themselves (self-described as “cool guys are something”) with some info on their newest remix, “Real Love.”
The track has more of a downtempo vibe than previous Chainsmokers releases – this one comes in at around 105 bpm – which has something to do with the original (check that out here). In comparison, it’s fascinating to hear how the song’s emotional dynamic evolved but didn’t lose its heart in the most recent iteration.
Whereas the original is more of a retro-’90’s dance-ballad, The Chainsmokers remix taps into a tribal-esque, sweaty-nightclub feel without resorting to huge beat drops and clichéd synth choruses that are the mainstay of the genre today.
Instead, the duo uses chopped vocals, swirling synths, horn samples, electro-blips, and their own penchant for seductive and sexy percussive beats to craft a stunning piece of boundary-pushing music.
As they wrote in their email, “We will also be releasing our NEXT single in the coming weeks, and also have about 15 tracks that we are really excited about…It’s time to really be the artists we initially set out to be!”
NUTSHELL: Most of The Chainsmokers music pushes the boundaries of progressive/indie house, and their remix of “Real Love” is no exception; excitingly, it takes the duo back to the kind of ingenuitive music they started out producing, and promises more greatness in the near future.
Thanks for READLISTENING!
Want to listen to all of these songs at once? Check out my YouTube Playlist for this SoundWave!