This one starts off a little questionable: all calm and mellow, very la-di-da … and then, at 43-second mark, it blows me away. The rhythm, the vocals — it’s all so seductive, so harmoniously sexual that I get goosebumps just listening to it. And I pressed repeat so many times I damn near broke the button. Close your eyes and give in fully to the ecstatic feeling.
No introduction necessary. If you don’t know from CALVIN HARRIS, you’re not reading this blog. So let’s just dive in.
1.“Green Valley” – Well, that’s 1:49 of my life I’ll never get back. It’s interesting for the first 30 seconds, then continues without much change. Picture the soundtrack to a bad porn scene: not the most auspicious way to start an album.
2. “Bounce” – Here, Harris adds the soulful vocals of Kelis to a funky house track. I like this one, but can’t say I’m the biggest fan. Mostly, I suspect, because it’s been around for some time now and is simply overplayed.
3. “Feel So Close” – I absolutely fell in love with this track the first time I heard it, back at WEMF 2011. Definitely a successful prodution, and it’s no surprise that this became Harris’s first solo single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.
While I’m still a fan of the original, I’ve gotta say: I am head-over-heels addicted to Nero‘s remix of this track. If you haven’t already heard it, you owe it to yourself to give a listen …
4. We Found Love – By now, I’ve heard this track once too often on the radio — and to be honest, I was never a fan. Just not my cup of tea, although I can see why it satisfies the ears of some EDM fans. The music video has earned quite a bit of criticism, and while it’s not the worst EDM video I’ve ever seen, you can’t exactly say it promotes positive lifestyle choices.
5. We’ll Be Coming Back – Don’t know what it is, but something about the vocals of English singer-rapper Example just appeals to my senses. This track starts nice and mellow, then kicks into a solid tempo. Definitely something you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home, but at the same time clearly built to rock dancefloors from Ibiza to Iceland.
6. Mansion - VERY disappointed with Harris on this one. Cuz here’s a track that pulls me in within the first 10 seconds, and at 1:25 has me thinking of the rave scene from Blade … and then it ends just past the two-minutes mark. SERIOUSLY? This had the potential to be a nine-minute epic, but Harris decided to pull the plug and settle for a short, sweet banger. Why?
7. Iron – This track is infatuating — but the affair is short and sweet. At the end you get a nice buildup, and you’re waiting for a sick drop, and then … nothing. THUMBS DOWN to that. Over on Beatport you can buy the vastly superiour full five-minute version of “Iron.” Given the high expectations of his fans, I’m really not sure why Harris decided to put shortened versions of his tracks on this album. Not so nice!
8. I Need Your Love – Harris couldn’t have chosen a better vocalist than Ellie Goulding. Her voice works perfectly with his beats here. And yes, I did press repeat on this one.
9. Drinking From The Bottle – I’ll keep it short: not a fan of this one.
10. Sweet Nothing – I’ve always been a fan of Florence Welch, and her powerful voice works perfectly with Harris mellifluous style. This track has been one of Harris’ biggest successes, charting high just about everywhere from Ireland to New Zealand. Sweet — and definitely not nothing.
11. School – It’s got a soulful vibe and a funky, old-school feel to it. I’m a bit torn on this one: can’t say it’s a favourite, but there’s something to it, all right. Still, of all the short tracks on this album, it’s the only one I’m actually glad is short.
12. Here 2 China – Nope. Didn’t make it past the 20-second mark. Sorry, but no. Just doesn’t fit here.
13. Let’s Go – I remember watching the Euro 2012 tournament this past summer and being absolutely blown away by that Pepsi Max commercial. It was this track that made the spot such an attention-getter, and it more than stands on its own — though it’s Ne-Yo’s voice and the lyrics, more than the music itself, that make the whole thing so satisfying and impressive.
14. Awooga – Another impressive track, but again, too short. If you want to support Calvin Harris by purchasing his album, just know that you’ll be getting the truncated 3:51 version of this song. And maybe make a mental note that the full seven-minutes-plus version can be found over at Beatport for a more $1.49. Just sayin’. And let’s be honest: this track was meant to have some length to it. I’d put it along with “Mansion” and “Iron” as one of my favourites from the album.
15. Thinking About You – OK, the album may have started on a disappointing note, but I’d say it finishes admirably. I’m definitely “Thinking About” this album — though mostly what I’m thinking is that I have some seriously mixed feelings. Overall I’d rate it a success for Harris — but with some questionable odds and ends that make it less satisfying than it ought to be.
Gosia Mrugala is a Toronto-based blogger and reviewer. You can read her blog HERE, and follow her on Twitter HERE.
Here we go again. Back to Echo Beach — this time to see a man who hasn’t traveled to Toronto … scratch that, Canada … no, wait, scratch that, North America … in 12 years. Eric Prydz is headling the Identity Festival in Toronto on Saturday, and I am amped.
I really don’t know what to expect. We’re talking about one of the pioneers of this genre. Somebody who was bending boundaries in the studio before the term EDM had even been invented. Who was making his mark as a live performer when DJs were still mainly associated with hip-hop acts. Who’d established the pseudonymous Cirez D as a household name well before alter egos became all the rage in dance music. Basically: if you’re in Toronto this Saturday there is only one destination.
And the awesome doesn’t stop with Pryda. Other heavy names featured at Identity include none other than Nero — currently number one on the bpm:tv Hot 20 Dance Chart with their single “Must Be The Feeling.” It’s a while since I’ve seen this UK duo perform, and I’m excited about how their sound has evolved. The latest album, Welcome Reality, has been a massive success, I’m looking forward to this set — not just to see the crowd’s reaction, but to hear their choice of remixes. Should be a performance to remember.
Then there’s Madeon and Le Castle Vania: Both young, both heavy electro — and both awesome. The 18-year-old Frenchman Madeon has built a rep in Europe as something of a prodigy, as been a favorite on BBC Radio 1 for quite a while now. The Atlanta-based Le Castle Vania, meanwhile, is part of the tide of fresh blood from North America blood sweeping across face of the EDM world. Both should be great sets, so be sure to check them out.
And then there’s Excision. Canada, stand up! The dubstep demon from Kelowna, BC will definitely be excited to play such a high-profile fest in his home country. And whenever you get a bass DJ hype to play for you … well, consider your pants soiled. Be prepared to get grimy.
So with all that said, I think it only fair that this week’s Sweets should showcase the artists performing at Identity. Enjoy!
First and foremost a Happy Good Friday and Easter Sunday to all of bpm nation. Amidst all your ragin’ this long weekend, try to take a few minutes to remember the meaning of the holiday.
Thursday is one of the biggest nights in the club world. Even the people who don’t enjoy clubbing — because of the crowds, because of the price it exacts on your wallet and your body — will be out and about tonight. I think it’s a great time to hit a club that has a resident DJ and see what he or she is playing. Are they sticking with the tried-and-true crowd-pleasers, or pushing the boundaries with some creative new sounds? All questions worth answering, while indulging in a few drinks and the occasional taste of eye candy.
With Coachella coming up, next week’s Sweets will be dedicated to that infamous festival, which showcases some of the best acts in the world in a three-day clusterf**k. Meantime, this week’s helping should hold you all the way to 4/20, when we will get high together. Figuratively speaking, of course .
It’s Friday! TGIF! This weekend feels like one made for the inner socialite in all of us. Since the single people of the world had to endure the shame of being alone on Valentine’s Day, you can expect the clubs to be packed with people redoubling their search for Mr. or Ms. Right. And if that’s true, then the DJs best come correct with tunes to help you bolster the courage. On the other hand, if you’d prefere to keep it low-key with a house party or a small gathering, we’ve got you completely covered with this week’s best tracks. Have at it!
No hesitation about jumping into the warm waters with this one. Bingo Players have a banger with help from Heather Bright.
I am definitely not one to highlight an artist in the aftermath of his or her death. That has to be said. However, I am one to highlight anything that features Chromeo. Whitney had what may have been one of the best voices in the history of time — so we can hope that, among the truckload of remixes that will be doubtless appear over the coming weeks, we get more gems like this.
So what happened? Did Skrillex win a Grammy? No, please don’t answer that. The biggest sign of the EDM takeover isn’t the awards these artists are winning — it’s the sheer volume of buzz that gets uncorked when these awards go down. My Facebook and Twitter feeds were a veritable orgy of Skrillex and Deadmau5 praise on Sunday night, and that will always elicit a wry smile. But of course, congrats to Sonny for bagging three awards –and to all the other winners, too.
Let’s jump back into it, shall we? On Friday I was bemoaning what a slow week it had been for new releases, and the production gods must’ve heard, because on the weekend I came across an abundance of new tracks — enough material to be talking about for days. But It’s only Tuesday. Let’s just check ‘em out and discuss later. Highlights include Jacques Lu Cont, who is worth the price of admission to Coachella alone!
Today is the eve of Dillon Francis Day, which we’ll be celebrating by checking out his brand new EP. In the meantime, Dillon has a nice fresh remix for us. So sick!
With the first month of the year coming to a close , we can say with confidence and optimism that 2012 has already produced some great EDM tracks, and is looking to be the year of the bass and synth. With a basket full of club anthems and pop ditties, I’m betting that when the warm weather arrives, our music will once again be the soundtrack everyone’s riding to.
One of the biggest releases of ’12 so far comes from Steve Aoki. It’s a hotly anticipated album — and one that has, to be frank, a very specific sound. I’ll review it tomorrow, so be sure to check back in.
Plenty of great tracks surfaced this past weekend. Take a second and jot ‘em down. Some may be a little too hype for a Monday — but hey, it’s almost Tuesday … when us ravers gets started!
Not every day brings a batch of great new tracks — and I’m happy for that fact. Some days you need to sit back and dwell on the past, and all the good we’ve received from it. On days like this, it’s worth zeroing in on individual artists who deserve a little bit of a spotlight all their own. Today I’m going with Scotland’s new ambassador, Calvin Harris.
Calvin has been plugging away consistently for the past five years, dropping track after track, remix after remix. Some to great success, others not so much. While it may look like he had immediate chemistry with Kelis on “Bounce,” one tends to forget that back in 2007 they’d released “4th of July (Fireworks)” — a track that never really sprang to life.
I’ll be the first to tell you that popularity of a track is by no means the best measure of success. But when you have a collab of that magnitude, you’d expect the focus would be on producing a song with the broadest appeal possible. It wasn’t. Calvin stuck to his guns, making more tracks for more artists, knowing that his productions were rock-solid, and that eventually the momentum would be on his side, rather than against him.
So “I’m Not Alone” is already known as a monumental tune. That’s not even close to an overstatement. For many, it was the song of the decade. A track that vividly captures the life of a raver, it was everyone’s favourite tune for a minute. Admit it, you know it was.
That was all dandy — but it really wasn’t until 2011 that things took off for Calvin. I remember listening to him in conversation with Annie Mac in Ibiza last August, and hearing how amazed he was when Annie ranked him in the same heavyweight class as Guetta and Tiësto. By this time, he had put together a string of songs that the whole world wanted to hear. “Awooga” was kinda weird, but in an Afrojack world it was exactly what ravers wanted to hear. “Bounce” left nothing in doubt. Calvin and Kelis didn’t worry about how many people would like the song, and it benefited from the decision to give their creativity free rein. And then “Feel So Close” comes along and becomes a BBC Radio 1 favourite. Nero makes a colossal remix, and the rest is history.
All of these are heavy tracks. But it’s his collaboration with Rihanna on “We Found Love” that has put him among the elite — and, in a way, elevated him above the elite. At this moment, there is no one else in the world like Rihanna. Everything she touches turns to gold. She is more than an “it” girl — she is the girl. But even Rihanna couldn’t have imagined just how big this song would be. Number one in more than 40 countries, countless plays on North American and European radio stations, and a video that is destined to rack up every MTV award in sight.
Is this the pinnacle — or just the beginning for a new global DJ? The answer can only be answered in time, but I’ll tell you this: Calvin Harris never quit when he was down, so I wouldn’t expect him to stop now!
Nero & Skrillex @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto: Feb. 19, 2011 Reviewed by Scott Willats
To say fans were expecting a crazy show is little contentious. After the December 1st massacre at Wrongbar in 2010, it was easy to see that the hundreds that waited outside Phoenix at 8 o’clock were expecting an encore. Well to be fair they didn’t get the massacre they were eagerly awaiting. Nope, that wasn’t in the cards for these dub heads, instead they received an annihilation of hardcore dubstep and fidget house.
It always felt like it was going to be special. A week before the buzz was building throughout the city. “He’s coming back but it’s not just him, he’s bringing friends.” To label dubstep duo Nero as just “friends” is comical at best. Nero, who blew away Mod Club on their own just a few months past were opening. That’s right, opening the night. We all knew we were in for a treat.
And we got it. Nero shaking the floors with the heavy rock vibe of “Me and You.” For a second you felt like a Slayer concert had just erupted with heavy, stinky BASS. “Act Like You Know” soon followed and the sweat and mist had now taken control of the venue. If you were dehydrated then, I’m sure you suffered heat stroke as the onslaught continued. A certain “rodent” figure DJ was reported to be hiding amongst the fans and a smile must have cracked as the “Ghosts and Stuff” remix rattled, which to be truly honest I have always believed is far too polished and well produced to be labeled a remix. We also got a very exclusive sneak preview of “Guilt,” a track that released for the first time (well second if you yet include us) on BBC Radio 1′s Annie Mac show the next week. A treat for us all and the night wasn’t even half done.
There are moments in music when you are in such heavy demand but you aren’t considered commercial. Skrillex is in that exact position and has been for almost a year now. I was talking to three crooners who had driven that day from Sudbury to see him. To be honest, I would have done the same thing. The long-hair, four-eyed dub gangster completely digested Phoenix. So many glitches, so many wobbles, it’s hard to really praise one song in specific. That’s when you know an artist is in top form when every track is an episode and every beat is crucial to the night. Sure “In for Kill” probably received the biggest ovation but we heard “Scatta” and “Existence” by Excision and Downlink back to back, which was like being thrown into a torture chamber with no room for your ears playing victim.
Dubstep is a tricky genre: it can get repetitive very quickly. But watching Skrillex you feel that every stanza, every four bars are different and each one better than the last. For those who were there, it was a blessing.
The night had plenty of highlights, such as a dubber in a chicken suit who seemed to never lose energy. He might as well have been the mascot for the night. The crowd hardly lost energy. I once heard a friend tell me, “The problem with fidget house, electro house and dubstep is that it has to get tired, it can’t sustain a whole night.” Well, after the show that friend’s foot has officially colonized his mouth. The real problem with fidget house, electro house and dubstep is that these shows make going to other shows useless. The quality in each set is becoming an assault on every other genre in music and to be honest I couldn’t be happier. The Electro season begins. It’s going to be a hot summer.