This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Not only for my own personal running list of things I’ve found via Bandcamp (or Soundcloud) that I like, but for a chance that anyone who accidentally stumbles across this blog might find something they like, as well.
Since this is the first time I’ve ever done this, and it’s something I plan to do randomly as the mood hits me, I’m not putting a timeframe on when anything was released. All I care about is when I find it.
Made In Heights – Without My Enemy What Would I Do
This is, pretty easily, my favorite release that I’ve listened to in the first half of 2015. It’s hit me in a similar way that FKA Twigs did last year, because it feels both familiar and wildly different, all at the same time.
If I were forced to boil this down to a single genre descriptor, I’d have to say this is pop, but I’d be really sad that I’d have to boil it down to that and only that. Made In Heights are a duo that bring beautiful female vocals melted over some very varied (alliteration!) production. That variance in the production can fall under the wide umbrella that is electronic music (whatever that is anymore), melded with some hip-hop/R&B influence along with a pop sensibility that I alluded to earlier.
Cry is probably the track that most says “THIS IS MADE IN HEIGHTS!” to me. It starts with a squealing pig that probably fits better into a horror movie than it does a song as beautiful as this, followed by a chopped-up sample of said pig that somehow turns from that horrid sound at the beginning into something that works as a piece of music. Wrap that up with a water-in-the-bucket drip-drop sound and you have the description of a song that just shouldn’t be as good as it is. Once the vocals drop in, everything comes together to make for what I can only describe via an oxymoron; melancholic bliss.
This is the mix that is Kelsey Bulkin (vocals) and Alexei Saba (a/k/a Sabzi; producer), a duo that can only be described in pairings of words which shouldn’t go next to each other. They are a match… made in heights.
(I NAILED that cheesy ending… nailed it!)
Recommended if you like – FKA Twigs, London Grammar, ASTR, Basecamp
Symmetry – JUNKY
Excellent and unique production, with more string arrangements than any other hip-hop album I can recall hearing anywhere else, Symmetry has an exchange between singing and rapping which comes and goes at his whim. His lyrics are the ‘heart on the sleeve’ kind of stuff, but it always sounds sincere and honest which makes him easy to feel a connection with.
This would be popular, if anyone would have ever heard it. It looks like he re-released this as a deluxe edition just this month, hopefully some people notice this time around. The title track is one of my favorite hip-hop songs of the last 5 years.
Recommended if you like – Atmosphere, P.O.S., Prolyphic and Reanimator, Hoodie Allen… probably even some pop like Maroon 5… sounds weird, but trust me.
Lo-Fye – Breathe
As much as I hate to be the guy to use a genre descriptor like ‘post r&b’, because… what is that even?… I kind of have to here to give an idea of how this sounds. Think ethereal or spectral beats like Crystal Castles, but with cleaner vocals. I also catch a hint of Stumbleine in that it can sound both blissed-out and melancholy, all at the same time.
Recommended if you like – Stumbleine, The Weeknd, Crystal Castles
Forever Losing Sleep – I Lost Myself Again
Brand New hasn’t made an album in a long, long time, but it’s clear to me their influence is spreading now more than it did at their height. Forever Losing Sleep has the quiet/loud element of Brand New nailed down. They also connect on an an emotional level like Brand New did (read: depressed) and that’s something not all bands influenced by other bands can claim. Not so much a rip off of Brand New, more so a logical progression on what you’d think to hear from a band in 2015 who wear their influences well.
Recommended if you like – Brand New, Basement, Balance and Composure