Let’s face it – electronic R&B is here to stay. Be it the sad-eyed, inventive crooning of James Blake or the drug-addled sexuality of The Weeknd, producers everywhere are slowing down the beats per minute and tugging harder on your heart strings with every line. In between glitches and pops, ass-shaking low end, and cooing vocals lies the enchanting romantic music of 2013.
The young production trio of Aaron Miller, Aaron C. Harmon, and Jordan Reyes formed BASECAMP earlier this year. The Nashville production group bring something different from their hometown, but there is a sense of real musicality. “Emmanuel” was their first single, coming out a few months ago, and has been met with almost universal acclaim. It’s easy to see why. The bass line rumbles along, a falsetto melody line that twinges between timbres leads you through the disparate aural forces. A complete pop song, affected and affectionate all at once.
Los Angeles bubbles like a musical cauldron. Sometimes it needs to boil over for a musician to really be discovered. 23-year-old singer/songwriter Nylo has been steadily rising, leaving Texas to become a session musician and industry songwriter. Now she’s decided though to focus on her own career, putting out a sparkling EP right in the vein of the electro-hip-hop-R&B that dominates the musical zeitgeist.
Puzzle games, for me, always seem to be on the forefront of game design. Like Bobby wrote a couple of weeks ago, sometimes game design can feel turgid, rote, and, frankly, uninspired. So many stories lack, emotional depth or attempt to put a real feeling inside you. I mean how many different times do I need to run around with a gun or hack and slash through a dungeon to get loot or save a princess?
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons feels different right off the bat. This new release on Xbox and PS3 is about two brothers looking for a lifesaving ingredient in a beautiful fairy tale world. Josef Fares, a Swedish film director, linked with Starbreeze Studios to give the game a cinematic sweep.
Catchy, vibrant, and irrepressible, “Royals” has become one of the sneaky hits of the summer. 16-year-old New Zealander Lorde released The Love Club EP earlier in the year, and this track the centerpiece. Signed as a 12-year-old, somehow “Royals” reaches a depth of societal reflection far beyond her years. The song pokes fun at the rampant love of luxuries and status symbols in modern pop culture. Coyly teasing from the sidelines, she pokes fun at the double standards of those who “show off” the Maybachs and Cristal they could never afford. All, of course, for the sake of looking cool.
Leave it to the Weeknd to kick it up a notch. Massive reverb syncs with Tesfaye’s additional vocals, taking the loungey vibe up to a snazzier, seductive level. The track escalates from the reflective roots into a echo filled banger, constantly looking back at itself. All of a sudden the music does more than complement the song. The echoes and croons create a delightful excess of musicality, revealing the budding evolution of a young singer.
I’ve been geeking out in PC gaming for the past few weeks, but one thing has me really excited. Uber’s new game Planetary Annihilation mixes strategy and world building under a cool premise. Built for OS/X and Windows, there is a general push to letting the player customize the game however they see fit. Be it small skirmishes to control a piece of land or several planets pitted against each other, the scale of battle is as large as you want. You could kick back, play offline, and destroy some planets. Or log online to join someone else’s attempt to conquer the galaxy.
To some extent 2013 can be slashed in half. Before and after Yeezus, I mean. That seems a bit audacious, right? It’s ONE record, maybe not Kanye’s most loved – although the croissants line still gets me. But if anything, like 808s & Heartbreak, it has opened the door for different producers and the darker side of dubstep, grime, and hip hop to become a part of the mainstream.
So who really made Yeezus?
From break beats getting a turntable treatment, hazy minimalism, and the blend of experimental, trap and hip hop, it’s a good time to be a fan of any type of electronic music. 2013 has provided some real gems. Remixes and mixtapes appear daily and I, for one, cannot get enough of it.
But for me, the dance track of the year is by two brothers from Surrey.
Photo by Doug Seymour
LD Brown has been around for a minute. The Brooklyn acoustic guitarist/songwriter drew attention with his affiliation with the Cinematic Orchestra and his fantastic vocal work on Bonobo’s “First Fires.” Known for his mellow, eccentric, inspired picking, he opened the former and put out his first record, Of the Days, in 2011.
Recording under the name Grey Reverend, his stripped down style simmers in our summer of sangria and spf30. With a new record due out September 2nd and an EP coming out July 29th, it’s a great time for a single. And maybe a song that hits the summer time from a different angle.