There are certain artists who know how to make the most of it every time they step into the studio. When you consider that the “studio” often consists of a laptop in a hotel room somewhere, it’s even more amazing just how rich and dynamic these tracks end up sounding. Exhibit A: Felix Cartal.
It’s a dramatic statement, but I’ll stand by it: there is no one in the world right now creating better big room house bangers than this Vancouver-based artist. March 27 is the release date for his new album Different Faces, and it’s a work many electro heads and EDM fanatics have been waiting years to hear.
First off, let’s break down Cartal’s catalogue. This is the artist who’s given us stadium bangers such as “Drugs,” “The Joker” and “The Riddler,” not to mention cult classics like “Montreal Dreams,” and two personal favourites of mine: “Skeleton” and “Drone.” With a track record like that, you can see why he’s held in such high regard, not just by his boss Steve Aoki, but by everyone in the EDM game. His tracks are usually the first to played, the first to be remixed, and first to be loved by millions. So when I sat down to listen to Different Faces, I expected a lot.
What I got was a slap in the face accompanied by a raised eyebrow that said, “What the f**k did you think I was gonna do?”
What did I think? When “Don’t Turn On The Lights” came out in December, I’ll confess it didn’t give me the electric shakes I usually feel when I listen to Felix Cartal. I think I was worried that the album would be rushed and overly calculated to make sales. Slap again. “What the f**k did you think I was gonna do?” Of course not. Felix dropped pure class with this one: a summer anthem playlist and a tutorial for other producers on how to make bangers. It’s as close to The Source magazine’s famous 5 mic rating as you’re ever going to get, and so intense that it sucks the oxygen right out of your lungs. It’s that good.
Every track has its own personality. The tunes with vocals are radio-ready (as in, “ready to take over the radio”), and the instrumentals are every DJ’s dream. This is going to be the hit of WMC in Miami, and a definite top 10 finisher in on a lot of year-end best albums lists. It’s inspiring, too, to see the best EDM coming out of Canada again.
I’d love to go into every track in detail, but let’s give it all some time to sink in. For now, here are my preliminary faves — sure to change by the end of the week. Only to change again. Did I mention how good this album is? It’s good.
I find it really impressive when an artist manages to launch a new song with a video release. So often it seems that a track will get leaked long before the idea for the video has even been hatched. When I interviewed Steve Aoki last Friday, he said that people had bootleg versions of “Steve Jobs,” his track with Annger Dimas, before he’d even decided to call it “Steve Jobs.” So if you own a version of this track called “The 80s,” then you, my friend, are so far ahead of the pack that you have a dated bootleg version.
All of which is to say: if you heard the news — say, from this humble blogger — that Flux Pavilion and Example have just released a video for a new, previously unheard song, you might raise an eyebrow. First of all, you’ve got Flux, whose name is practically synonymous with “hit.” Then you’ve got Example, the self proclaimed artist of 2011, back with a roaring vengeance. How, exactly, did they manage to keep this off the radar?
Gotta say, there’s something about Example’s lyrics: they sound perfect over a heavy dub beat. The video might not be Oscar-worthy, but the track will definitely keep you locked on.
This week we see the continuing evolution of bassssssss, as Feed Me and Gemini team up on “Whiskers.” Even heavier and nastier is the newest remix from Adventure Club, who are quickly becoming big dawgs in the dub world. So what if nearly all of what they put out is remixes? All of them are fire. This remix of Foxes‘ “Youth” might just be their best yet. Like I said, heavy!!!!
We also had the release of Steve Aoki‘s “Ladi Dadi” remixes, featuring some of our favourite artists. But the highlight of the week had to be the return of Bob Sinclar. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard anything new from Sinclar — so long I’d practically forgotten he used to hold a top five position on the DJ Mag 100. But on the evidence of these two new tracks — both fun and easy on the ears — I have a feeling that come the middle of summer he’ll be headlining once again at all the big events.
By the way, WMC 2012 in Miami is just around the corner; look out for some announcements next week. Keep it locked!
Mr. Steve Aoki (a.k.a.) Kid Millionaire is one of the pioneers of what has become the EDM boom. The founder of Dim Mak Records has circled the world, headlining at all of the biggest events with his distinctive brand of party music. Previously known more for his stage presence, Aoki has developed into one of the better producers in EDM over the past 4 years. I was eager to find out what sounds he’s been playing with lately and how it’s all panned out. So here’s my take on his brand new album, Wonderland.
Earthquakey People feat. Rivers Cuomo
For all intents and purposes, the title tack of the album. This is the Aoki you expect: heavy, distorted bass that invades your speakers with a classic buildup. Rivers Cuomo is a bit of a weird choice for this beat, though. Don’t get me wrong: I have every Weezer album. But his voice doesn’t translate as well on an electro track made for the big room as it does on a rock anthem played for stadiums. I like the lyrics; though meant for partying and partying only, they flow well. Still …I can’t put my finger on it, but something is missing. At least, it is until you check out the Dillon Francis remix. Huge!
Ladi Dadi feat. Wynter Gordon
There’s no scientific basis for this, but it’s a theory I believe in: track number two on a CD is always the artist’s favourite song. Can’t tell you why — just that on album after album, track two is the keeper. Aoki bears this out with “Ladi Dadi” — the song bangs. A radio-friendly track that lays down the perfect background for vocals from the much-in-demand Wynter Gordon. And the video is wicked!
Dangerous feat. Zuper Blahq
Some artists just have great chemistry — and that’s the case with Aoki and The Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am. Performing as his alter ego, Zuper Blahq, will delivers the the robotic lyrics that make this tune … dangerous. The track is a banger that keeps up a steady pace until the 2:30 mark — at which point it just goes h.a.m!
Come With Me (Deadmeat) feat. Polina Goudieva
For those who love airy-sounding big-room tunes, this one’s for you. Polina’s vocals leap straight off a track that could easily be mistaken for Benny Benassi or Afrojack, and immediately hook you in. For myself, I love the parts focused on the pads rather than those focused on the beats. Either way, you have to agree it’s Polina’s presence that makes this track special.
This is why you have to love Aoki. An album this diverse was always going to have some predictable elements and some wildly unpredictable ones. But on the same song? Anybody who knows anything about Aoki could have guessed that Lil Jon would turn up on this album — but Chiddy Bang? Not so much. For those who haven’t already heard of Chiddy Bang, it’s time to get familiar. The Philly duo consists of Chiddy, the world record holder for longest rap (nine hours!) and Xaphoon Jones, one of the most creative and innovative producers in the game. They bless this tune with some heavy content. Aoki saves one of his better beats for the duo, and Chiddy goes innnnnnn on the beat and eats the track alive. Add some of Lil Jon’s trademark screaming, and you’ve got a hit. I think you’ll be surprised how much you like this track. My personal favourite.
It’s an LMFAO world that we’re living in. Right now they’ve got the Midas touch, and you can hear it on this track. Nervo deserves mention because it’s as much her track as theirs — but there’s just something about Redfoo and Skyblu. When you hear their voices on a tune, it immediately feels like something you’ve always known. And I think that’s a good thing. Expect this to be the next single off the album.
Control Peak feat. BlaqStarr & Kay
Bring the vibes, bring the soul. The acoustic bass is the first thing you’ll notice, lending a welcome organic feel to this soulful track. The showstopper here is Kay; when that second verse starts it doesn’t matter where you are — your head’s gonna start bobbing and your hips are gonna to wiggle a little. This tune will probably be overlooked by most EDM junkies, but it might just be the most insightful track on the album.
Steve Jobs feat Angger Dimas
Hard, heavy and hectic. Nuff said!
Heartbreaker feat. LoveFoxx
A track made for long bus rides. This has an immediate, soundtrack-y feel and plays the part just right. LoveFoxx is the perfect choice to quarterback — her airy vocals are just what’s needed to make this song worthy of the most overused word in the English language: epic. I can see this one being huge in Europe.
Cudi the Kid feat. Kid Cudi & Travis Barker
Kid Cudi must count his lucky stars at night. Not to say he doesn’t deserve all the fame and recognition, but I’ve rarely seen an artist win such open acceptance across multiple genres. He’s an EDM hero, a rap phenomenon, an acclaimed actor and a rock star. One this track he’s accompanied by another musician who has received a similarly open-armed reception: Travis Barker. The song? Good, but not great.
Ooh feat. Robert Raimon Roy
I love this track. Funky, fly and fresh. Triple R delivers some heavy vocals, and Aoki outdoes himself on the beat, nailing it right on the head. This beat is so ill – that’s the only description that does it justice.
Hmmm. If you read this blog you know I hate when artists stick rigidly to just one genre. The best part of music is experimentation. That said, sometimes you can go a little too far. For those who are strictly EDM fans (dubstep, house, progressive, minimal, trance etc.), I’m afraid you won’t like this one. Steve goes apes**t on a heavy metal ballad. You be the judge.
Earthquakey People (The Sequel)
To my mind, this version is light years better than the original, and I think he must’ve known that. Sometimes an artist will have five different versions of the same song, and end up just gambling on which one will resonate with the crowd. Sometimes I wish they’d just release all five and let the fans decide. Kudos to you, Steve, for experimenting with that idea!
THE FINAL WORD
For someone like me who loved with the classic hip-hop mixtape format — where you basically put your name on the disc and release other people’s tunes — I must say I really enjoy the style of Wonderland. It showcases some amazing beats inspired and created by Aoki. But what I love best is that every song feels like an experiment. Some work well, and others not so much — but every track is going for something different, and for that I give the creator my utmost respect. This album is proof that Aoki has come a long way.
Bitter cold throughout the city of Toronto this weekend, but that didn’t stop the concert and party scene. I, however, am the biggest wimp when it comes to minus-15 weather. So I grabbed a couple movies and a couple of mixtapes, some wine and steak sandwiches, and called it a hibernation weekend. It’s a shame, too, because Burakka Som Sistema had been calling my name for the past couple of weeks, but I just wasn’t up for it.
What I was up for was dedicating some time to finding new cuts you’ll love. And what I came up with was Steve Aoki remixing Bassnectar, Urban Noize brightening up Young Money‘s Tyga, and more. Take a taste and savour the flavour.
Bassnectar dropped the new Divergent Spectrums EP on Friday, and it features a host of remixes from some of our favourite names. I’m not sold on all of them, but the more I listen the more I hear pieces of a picture I admire. Plus when it’s free and it’s Bassnectar, you want to just snatch it up and worry about the fine details later.
Urban Noize‘s remix of Tyga‘s “Rack City” seems to have disappeared from Soundcloud. Here’s a link where, with luck, you’ll be able to find it. If not, be sure to check it on YouTube — it brings a different feel to a song that a lot of people are jumping on.
Forgive me for being tardy with this one. Our favourite Swedish electro duo F.O.O.L. (F**k Our Ordinary Lives) gave a way a free track for us last week and I missed it. The good news is, I’m all over it now — and it’s dark, which I find to be F.O.O.L’s best style. Pick it up!
After an incredible EDM weekend in Canada’s largest city, I think it’s safe to say that electronic dance music is bigger than it’s ever been before — and I can only see it growing in 2012. This is an exciting time for all fans of the genre.
Best way to celebrate the year that was: a look back at some of the best festivals, videos and tracks of the year!
The Ultra Music Festival is always something to be seen. Miami plays host to this monster event in March, and bpm:tv was there this past spring to soak up some of the action. There was concern this year that things weren’t going to be the same, since Ultra and the Winter Music Conference planned their respective events a week apart. But Ultra has the DJs, so Ultra has the scene — simple as that. With luck, this coming year will be a little more organziee. But no matter what happens, WMC is a must for any EDM fan.
Let’s take a look at this year’s Miami extravaganza through the eyes of Kaskade, the Ultra team, Steve Aoki and the Dim Mak camp!
Monday came and passed. You went to www.bpmtv.com hoping, praying … needing your Monday Mash, and there was nothing there for you. For that I apologize. All I can do is give you a bonus Wednesday batch of goodies to help get you to Friday. So instead of wasting your time talking nonsense, I’ll start filling your goodie bag!
More and more, I’m beginning to love that smooth electronic sound. For a minute it was all heavy drums and kicks from the dubstep region. But now I’m feeling tracks like these. What you think? I think it’s free!
That dubstep sound I just said was going away? Here’s a new one, lol. Of course it’s not going anywhere soon, and I don’t think many of us want it to go anywhere. This track is a great remix. Great because the original was already a banger and Jaybird just intensified it.
For a long time, people questioned Steve Aoki’s production values. His stage presence was undeniable, but his work in the studio left questions to be answered. Over the past two years, though, he has really stepped it up and improved on so many levels. Now he’s regarded as the ideal person to collaborate with. This one should be very big very soon!
And last but not least: I have just started following Dan Clare and it’s evident that the kid has a lot of talent. With smooth transitions and an ear for the crowd, he’s destined to be here for a while. This video is hawt! Follow him HERE.
Round one of this week’s concert series came to an end last night, with Wolfgang Gartner going innnnn. Tonight, New York producer Luca Venezia, a.k.a. Drop The Lime, will be making a quick stop at The Mod Club to show off some of his new stuff. This man is talent in the purest form, and if you’re in the mood for a lot of jumping around and beats that hit you with precision and accuracy, The Mod Club is your spot tonight. Yet another beauty brought to you by Embrace Presents!
Since I don’t think I’ll be able to get a post up in time tomorrow, I should talk a little about the raveaggedon that is on tap at Kool Haus. The four-eyed assassin, Skrillex, is coming to town with a very special guest: 12th Planet! This show is for the all-ages type of crowd. Everyone is invited and everyone should come out to really appreciate what Skrillex has accomplished. I think this makes his fourth trip to Toronto in the past year, so it seems pretty obvious that we’ve become a favourite in his eyes.
12th Planet, meanwhile, is the artist I am truly excited to see tomorrow. Not only is this the first time I get to see him live, I will also be doing a web exclusive interview with him as well. So if you’ve got any questions for me to shoot his way, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Which leads me to my sweets. I’m gonna keep them simple this week because I suspect most have you have already clicked off the page to get your tickets. And can I blame you? Not in the slightest.
First one is for all the Ferry Corsten fans out there. A lot of my posts have the dubstep feel, so it’ll be refreshing to hear some big room form. Bassjackers, who are in another zone of late, have absolutely worked their magic on Ferry’s track. It’s heavy and exactly what you want to hear 30 minutes into your fav DJ’s set. This one can’t be listened to sitting down.
It’s Friday!!! Yes, the weekend is here — and this one has a unique taste to it. For those of you across Canada, I truly apologize for speaking specifically to Toronto crowds. Throughout the next few months I will focus on every major city in Canada and their electro scene. But this weekend could be a classic in Ontario’s capital.
TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival is in town and for electro heads like us the main importance of this event is the extended 4 am closing. Whaaat? Like us Canadians don’t drink enough in our allocated hours: now we get an an extra two. No complaints here, though. That just means the late night sets are going to be that much more lucid — and I’m stoked.
Amongst the many parties tonight, two are on the top of the list. At The Mod Clubtonight there will be the ever-growing and ever present Poupon‘s Searching EP release party. You want a good vibe, with good people in a classic setting? Simple, head to The Mod Club for 10 pm, and I can assure you that a smile (whether from the Jäger or the music) will be written across your mug around 4 am. Check out the teaser … like, really check it. Lights low, drink in hand … enough said!
The second party is more of an up-tempo, in-your-face bass-fest with some of the most knowledgeable music fans in the city bumping to trashy electro. One of the mad geniuses behind the trend setting earmilk.com, ElectBlake, is throwing down a huge party at The Gladstone. Never seen many of the artists perform, so I can’t really give an accurate portrayal of what it should be like tonight — buuuuuut considering my iPod consists roughly 65% of material found on earmilk.com I would definitely recommend checking it out. The jump-off starts at 10 pm. DETAILS HERE. Have a listen to the Promo Mix on SoundCloud.
Too many options, I know. Maybe do like me: pull the old credit card out, put on the dancing shoes and reinvent the term club hop. 4 am comes but once a year.
BTW the definitive track from Labour of Love is this epic big room banger! On a weekend like this I have to throw it in to get you hyped.