Adrian Shala and Adrian Schweizer, the Swiss duo recording and performing as Adriatique, sign the third Afterlife release of 2018, ‘Ray’. The two-track single follows their remix of Tale Of Us & Vaal’s ‘Monument’ in 2017, and marks the beginning of Adriatique’s own journey with Afterlife Recordings.
We first heard of ‘Ray’ in Tale Of Us’ sublime fabric 97 CD, where its soaring melody ended the mix on a euphoric high. It stands out as a scintillating dancefloor composition, whose lead synth line will no-doubt create many memorable dancefloor moments. ‘Voices From The Dawn’ takes a more subtle approach to the same thrilling effect. Driven by the rolling beats, it reveals itself sporadically in spirited surges of life.
These two tracks not only show the range of Adriatique’s production focus, but show them to be highly-accomplished whether making hypnotic, peak-time grooves or epic songs for the end of the night.
Jamison Isaak has been releasing acclaimed music under various aliases for the past eight years, and today he is returning to his namesake for the release of neoclassical EP1 – a quiet exploration of piano and pedal steel guitar. Whether it’s ambient-leaning synthpop or quiet meditative folk songs, Isaak has created a fanbase around his compelling, melodic and atmospheric works. Heralded as “irresistible” by Pitchfork and “an enchanted tranquility” by NPR, Jamison’s spacious yet intimate releases strike a chord across genres.
Jamison has released under monikers Teen Daze, Two Bicycles, and Pacific Coliseum in numerous styles. For the return to his given name on EP1 he has focused on meditative neoclassical recordings. Recorded between his home studio and Protection Island Recording (with Jonathan Anderson) in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, this EP navigates through four serene piano pieces. Anderson, who collaborated with Isaak on Themes For Dying Earth (Teen Daze), not only provided the blissful pedal steel parts, but also engineered a good portion of the record over one grey, rainy afternoon which is evident in the final version. Music intended for relaxation purposes.
EP1 is released via Isaak’s own label, FLORA, and is available now on streaming services.
BROKE ROYALS ARE DC’S FINEST ROCK BAND
Basnight and Cross have been playing music together since early 2014, elevating each other’s talents from every angle. As the owner of Unkempt & Overcaffeinated Studios, Colin has been able to help transform Basnight’s prolific songwriting into richly layered, energetic, and stirring tracks. Based in DC, they tour the East Coast extensively – having shared the stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Car Seat Headrest, Real Estate and Life in Film.
Review from www.inyourspeakers.com .
Released in late April on Mind Of A Genius, ZHU’s Nightday EP is a creative, well crafted electronic dance record. ZHU’s skills for sample selection and combination come through clearly across the record and across the record’s genres. ZHU plays around with tropical house sounds, deep house, and chillout with little nods to progressive house. The resulting combinations of sounds and samples are sometimes strange, but somehow ZHU manages to make them work. That miraculous exercise makes the Nightday EP worth a listen.
The first track, “Stay Closer,” is a hypnotizing, dark, funky house track. One listen to this track and it will make it to the hot indie electronic music playlist. This is a simple song in that it is composed of simple elements, but ZHU layered these samples in different ways and created a complex, fascinating track.
Following “Stay Closer” is “Faded,” a more straightforward track than the opener, but is slightly better for it. It features a darker bassline and prominent high pitched vocals. ZHU uses those vocals to make the contrast of the drop into the dark bassline more apparent. That is, the vocals make the bass sound much darker and more intrusive. This effect results in a compelling, grungy sound. Toward the end of the track, ZHU repeats this tactic, but he uses a high pitched synth to set up the drop. Also in this drop, ZHU layers the vocals and dark bassline on top of each other. It is a well deserved and hard-earned, awesome moment among many in “Faded.”
The fourth track, “Superfriends,” is a funky, slow, deep house track. The various vocal parts keep things interesting; they serve as effective transitions and complements to the production. This is the funkiest track on the album. How the vocals and beat work together is an intriguing but amazing mystery as they sound like they should not work. However, their cohesion works all the more and reflects well on ZHU’s sample selection.
Final track “Cocaine Model” is a tropical house track similarly styled to the third track, “Paradise Awaits,” but this one is better. Smooth, airy vocal samples frequently glide over a simple beat-clap pattern with bongo drums. ZHU takes these elements and combines them and mixes them differently with modern electronic samples. With his tropical beats, vocal samples and other well chosen samples, like acoustic guitar, ZHU crafts a chill, beachside, dance winner and concludes the EP in a fantastic way with “Cocaine Model.”
For a debut EP, ZHU has produced an admirable work. There are not many, if any, flagrant faults to point to on this record. It might be too unusual and a little too different for mass appreciation, but this is one record where trying out different sounds worked out positively. The beats are steady, the samples are funky, the vocals are smooth counterparts to the dark, grungy bass, and many of the tracks are head nodding and get-up-and-dance good on ZHU’s Nightday EP. His full length album will be awaited with great anticipation.
Review from www.pitchfork.com .
On the first song on their debut record, MGMT let us know how they got here. The rock song-as-origin myth is nothing new– from “Who Do You Love” through “Immigrant Song”, to “We Share Our Mother’s Health” and Kanye West’s “Big Brother”– and “Time to Pretend” situates itself in that canon. Emerging initially from a viscous electronic fluid, the song quickly takes shape as a bombastic electro-glam number about rock star dreams. Accordingly, it’s cheesy and clichéd, but also thick with sarcasm: Before the first chorus, MGMT sing nostalgically about having models for wives, moving to Paris, and shooting heroin. The kicker, though, is in the title itself. Knowing that the Almost Famous notion of stardom doesn’t exist anymore (if it ever did), the duo of Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser realize they’re “fated to pretend.” It’s a charming idea– making a career out of fantasizing– and on Oracular Spectacular, they not only accept their playacting destiny, they demonstrate that, just maybe, it’s a path more people should take.
MGMT find kindred spirits in Muse and Mew by dressing their melodies in the fanciful trappings of 1970s British prog, but unlike their contemporaries the duo also weaves in lessons from disco, new-wave synth-pop, and early 90s Britpop. The understanding that youthful innocence is a potent force– a theme first established in “Time to Pretend”– continues throughout the record. Instead of the “Knights of Cydonia”, though, MGMT fights “Weekend Wars”, ostensibly an ode to the fictionalized childhood battles that treat backyards as independent colonies in need of conquering. The gentle, chiming melody and effete vocals of “The Youth” recall Sparks or Queen at their most restrained moments, and “Kids” comes across as an inspirational dance anthem for playgrounders.
Most impressive on Spectacular is Vanwyngarden and Goldwasser’s ability to dabble, with the shared understanding that whatever they do is Big. “Pieces of What” is an unexpected acoustic guitar piece, but it’s delivered like an outtake from Suede’s Dog Man Star. “4th Dimensional Transition” augments its cavernous psychedelic vocals with a jacked-up BPM count, and on “Electric Feel”, MGMT pull off lithe, falsetto electro-funk surprisingly well. There’s not much to the song aside from a Barry Gibb vocal and limber bassline, but within the context of the rest of Spectacular, it makes perfect sense. In fact, so does the duo’s current tour pairing, as the openers for Of Montreal. Kevin Barnes’ emergence as an icon of theatricalized electro-glam seems the ideal toward which the duo should strive. They’re still young, of course; they’ve got plenty of time to figure that out.
Review from www.pitchfork.com .
I throw a sidelong glance at my brother’s “record collection” and take note of the names: Moby, Foo Fighters, Eminem. The best and brightest from the radio dial. He wouldn’t know indie if it came to his party and spent the whole night pining for some girl, but he’s clearly an expert on “Eh”; after a lifetime spent cultivating an appreciation for marginal-to-mediocre mainstream runoff, my brother has finally applied what he learned. In one sentence, he trumped everything I could write about this record. How can an album as tight, consistent, and energetic as Highly Refined Pirates be at once so thoroughly unimpressive? Minus the Bear is a talented bunch with a somewhat eclectic pedigree (Botch, Sharks Keep Moving, Kill Sadie), but the brainy arithmetic of its hooks, and the growly, sensitive-but-angry vocals are every inch the bastard sons of the middling indie norm.
Through changing time signatures, dynamic, bouncing rhythms, and thirty-one flavors of guitar noises, Minus the Bear make a Herculean effort to maintain their audience’s attention. They even slip in beat-driven electronics from time to time, digital ear candy to distract from the core blahness of their particular spin on well-spun clichés, but it’s never more than a flourish. When the dizziness subsides, J. Robbins asks, “Eric, why not listen to For Your Own Special Sweetheart instead? Doesn’t this just make you long for Emergency & I?”
And I want to say to him, “You know, Mr. Robbins, you’re right. Why eat hamburger when you can have steak?” Rock’s a finite genre, after all– not everyone can innovate. Imitation’s a fact of life, but the cardinal rule is to refine what’s been done before, and while Minus the Bear expertly execute existing formulas, they never once look beyond the tablature. This only serves to underscore the greatness of their inspirations (Dismemberment Plan, Jawbox, Built to Spill), and by track three on Pirates, I can’t shake the thought that everyone who’s listened to any independent music in the last ten years has heard this record before. Maybe it’s just that the Bear choose to emulate a sound that’s too fresh to be paraded under the banner of purism or revival; maybe it’s less inspired derivation. That’s a subtle distinction in any case: The bottom line is their roots are showing badly. Am I jaded? Maybe a little.
On some level, music is a visceral pleasure, and though it veers towards bemusement, Minus the Bear’s second full-length release manages to entertain. In particular, “Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo” and the opener, “Thanks For the Killer Game of Crisco Twister” come close to mustering some of the grandeur and transcendent glory of the more powerful acts that obviously inspire them. Despite the emotion in Jake Snider’s voice, and a few soaring melodies, they never quite find their way out from the shadows of the past. If only the songs lived up to the promise of their titles: An album even half as fun as a rousing game of Crisco Twister might have justified repeated spins.