As a DJ, I often go through phases when it comes to music. Like many of you, my tastes are wide-ranging. Recently though, I have stumbled across a small microcosm of the music world that seems to be blending an awful lot together. Hip Hop, Soul, Electro, Rock & Roll… all smashed into something I believe the 80’s strived for, but decided to forgo in favor of mass appeal and record sales.
Rest assured that the poppy, over the top sentimentality is there in spades, but hard edges and stutters still abound throughout these songs, leaving their own kind of character. It’s a sound I’ve never heard before and I’m liking it. Here’s hoping I’m not the only one. Happy Monday, gents; welcome to your week.
Tracks, previews, and reviews after the jump.
“In the Morning” by The Junior Boys
Mixing catchy minimalist synth beats with shy tenor vocals, this song will quickly twitch its way onto your heavy rotation list. Slow meets fast, pause meets start, and everyone just ends up wanting to dance. Though this might be their track with the most mass appeal potential, I really can’t say enough about how good the Junior Boys are. I just pray they don’t wind up in the background of some Nissan commercial.
“Little Secret” by Passion Pit
Passion Pit is developing a cult following by the minute and deservedly so. A robotic cacophony of Nintendos and dime store drum machines, somehow wrangled into harmony behind falsetto angst, they immediately snagged the Brooklyn hipster scene. However, I personally feel their strange special sauce of exuberance merits a listen for anyone wanting a sound to feel young again. The chorus of “Little Secrets” is something you’ll be yelling out the window at the top of your lungs while hitting 80 on the highway. Everyone can use some catharsis now and again.
“Too Too Fast” by Ra Ra Riot
Leaning more on the alternative rock side than the previous two songs, Ra Ra Riot is less content to bend conventions towards the extreme. “Too Too Fast” does just fine maximizing well-placed synthesizer with peppy, head-bobbing drums and emphatic vocals from lead singer Wes Miles. It had me hooked within the first 15 seconds of listening and held my attention throughout the continuously evolving frenzy. 100 listens later, nothing’s changed.
“Too Young” by Phoenix
Though they’ve been around for quite some time (this album was released in 2003), this Parisian pop rock group has been building momentum recently through appearances on Letterman, shows at Bonnaroo, and a U.S. concert tour. While I still like their newer sound, nothing beats this album in my book. “Too Young” is a classic stripped from it which you may have also heard in the movie Lost in Translation when Bill Murray and Scarlet Jo hit up Tokyo for a night of debauchery. It’s rolling guitar base line and lyrics are perfect starters for an evening of spirited social activity punctuated by booze and caffeine on breezy summer evenings.
“So Insane” by Discovery
Discovery is the brain child of Vampire Weekend keyboardist/producer Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot lead singer Wes Miles (mentioned earlier). Like The Postal Service infused with an industrial bent, on first listen I wondered what I should make of it. Swings in tempo and slightly auto tuned vocals combine in an eerily addicting way to create this track, which I’ve been listening into the ground. While stranger in execution than the songs previously discussed, lyrics saying “Oh baby you got me going, so insane and I just don’t know what’s going down” are definitely prone to become stuck in your head. The weird sentimentality of it all coming from such a bizarre crossroads of sound makes it hard to pinpoint internally. All I know is that it connects.
Got your own quick mix or just a track you like? Send us the song and artist to Open Forum with “Quick Mix” in the title. We’ll choose the best ones to include in future Quick Mixes.