How Fast do You Want Your New Music?

Some people believe the internet is bad for music because of the illegal downloading options it provides to listeners but for immediacy, the World Wide Web cannot be beaten. This has been emphasised recently with two of the biggest acts in music making brief statements that their new material would be made available in a matter of days. In days gone by, there would be a lengthy promotional campaign to hype a new release but Lady Gaga and Radiohead have shown that it is sometimes better to get new material to fans as quickly as possible.

Lady Gaga

 

Lady Gaga wasted no time in making her new single ‘Born This Way’ available on iTunes and it seemed that the whole world was talking about her again in an instant. The release of the single was perfectly timed to coincide with her appearance at the Grammy Awards where she arrived in her usual understated and quiet manner. Okay, that is not quite true as she turned up in an egg but it goes to show that Gaga knows all about the publicity machine.

 

Radiohead

Radiohead waste no time at all

The quick release obviously works for a single but Radiohead moved to show that it can also be done for albums. An announcement on Monday that the new album ‘The King of Limbs’ would be available from Saturday was the first sign that the band had anything new ready for release. It was known that the group were in the studio working on material but things had gone rather quiet on the Radiohead front but this news was warmly received by the group’s fans.

The indie band has previous in working in this manner with ‘In Rainbows’ being released with fans able to set their own price. That is not happening this time with £6 being the fee for downloading the album but those who want a physical copy of the album will be able to get one at a later date, with a special edition of the album in the pipeline.

Radiohead

 

 

There is no longer the need for lag time for a new release

The fact that new material can be pushed onto the market at very short notice is continuing the relationship that many acts have with their fans and is similar to the way that social media has transformed the promotion of acts. Twitter and Facebook ensures that news of a new release can go to the fans in an instant with there being less need of a build-up period for the marketing teams behind a release.

Anything that gets more music out there at a faster rate should be seen as a big thing but it is probably something that only the major artists can get away with. A new or up and coming act needs time to promote their song and let as many people hear it as possible before releasing it to the general public. In this sense, quick releases may not be ideal for all artists but for established artists, it could see a big change to the gestation periods that music is released. It will be interesting to note the early sales figures for both the Gaga single and the Radiohead album and then compare them with previous releases to see if there is any noticeable difference.

 

Beyonce is a Festival Survivor

The news that Beyonce is to headline the Sunday night of this year’s Glastonbury music festival has been met with derision in some quarters. The artist, one of the biggest selling acts of the modern era and a genuine superstar, is felt to be too poppy and not in keeping with the tradition of the festival. Glastonbury hasn’t experienced this much of a controversy over a headliner since Beyonce’s other half, Jay-Z, was listed as the headliner for the Saturday night a few years back. Perhaps the couple will feel as though it is something about them that people don’t like but is there any excuse to get worked up over such an announcement?

Beyonce

The thing about Glastonbury is that it is a mainstream music festival that covers so many different styles and genres. In fact, for many people, music isn’t really part of the Glastonbury experience as there is so much to see and do. However, with a multitude of artists and tents providing everything a music fan could want, should there be such uproar over a pop artist being announced as the headliner? If Beyonce was announced as the headline act for Download or Creamfields, then yes, the attendees may have cause for complaint but it is hard to see why anyone would complain about Beyonce closing the festival on the Sunday night.

This headliner will at least offer excitement

With rumours circulating about Coldplay and U2 being the other headliners, Beyonce is likely to be the most exciting of the three headline acts of the weekend and may provide some much needed glamour and excitement. These bands may sell lots of records and are pretty earnest in their opinions but they are not what you would call exciting or fun. The chance to see Beyonce leading tens of thousands of people in the ‘Single Ladies’ dance is surely something that all festival goers would take some joy from?

 

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FxZZj5S0uQ

 

The fact that there are so many moans further reinforces the thought that Glastonbury has moved away from the free-thinking festival that it used to be and is becoming as homogenised as the V Festival. Acts at festivals these days can be interchangeable so the fact that Glastonbury has managed to pull in an artist that is rarely on the UK festival circuit should be heralded as a triumph, not deemed as a negative sign.

 

Is Glastonbury not about being diverse?

The beauty about music festivals like Glastonbury is the fact that they embrace diversity and offer something for everyone. This is part of the appeal of the festival and people cannot start moaning about it now because it is not the sort of diversity they like.

Jay-Z turned out to be one of the most exciting headliners the festival has had in recent years and even managed to make a joke out of the controversy his set had created. Noel Gallagher gave a sound bite remark about Jay-Z’s appearance which the media then blew up but Jay-Z showed some class by performing ‘Wonderwall’ in his set. It can only be hoped that Beyonce has something clever up her diamante sleeve when she headlines Glastonbury.

Glastonbury Pyramid Stage

The Brit Awards Does Have Some Big Winners

It can be easy to criticise the Brit Awards and there is certainly nothing new or innovative about the majority of artists that feature but it is a great way for people to find out about music. Most music fans will find it incredulous that some people are only hearing of acts like Arcade Fire, Adele or Mumford & Sons for the first time at these events but then again, not everyone takes music as seriously as hard-core fans.

Adele

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4dSN6JYcyw

 

For all that there are group of hard-core music fans that buy albums every week and spend a lot of time checking out new bands on the internet, there are many more people who will experience artists for the first time through events like this. One of the most interesting things after these award shows is to look at the sales of an artist and to see if their sales figures rise dramatically. Thanks to iTunes and other downloading sites, it is possible to see almost instantaneously which bands benefit from their appearance on these shows.

 

Huge sales increases for some artists

In the day after the Brit Awards, some of the major acts on the night featured huge increases in sales. It has been reported that Mumford & Sons album sales rose by 2,000% compared to sales prior to the event. Okay, they may have sold very little albums in the lead-up to the Brit Awards and this 2,000% increase may not involve astronomical sales but it is still an astounding figure. Other artist who experienced big spikes in album sales includes Tinie Tempah, Adele, Arcade Fire, Plan B and even Rihanna.

Who does not know Rihanna by now?

You would think that everyone in the world knows Rihanna and if they had any intention of buying her album they would have done so by now but it seems not. Even some of the biggest artists in the world are able to experience stellar sales from appearing at an award ceremony so you can see why the music industry is so keen to have them.

 

Rihanna

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAc4zHEDd7o

 

Most people are aware that the only people that make serious money from the music industry are the record labels but this sort of exposure will push artists like Mumford & Sons or Adele to even bigger heights and Adele is perfectly positioned to make the most of her new found popularity.

On the back of the award ceremony, the artist announced a UK tour for September with tickets going on sale in the same week as the award show. This sort of timing indicates the importance of these award ceremonies to labels and the industry but if it gives people more opportunities to see some great talent perform, it is not a bad thing.

Many people are opposed to award ceremonies for musical talent and it is a good point. Music is an art form and surely all art is subjective? Trying to compare the merits of an Adele album against a Tinie Tempah record should be a futile exercise because it is not a case of like versus like. The only thing is, the benefits of having these award shows are all too evident for record labels and they will be keen to see them continue. The only positive comes from the fact that some people can find out about artists that they may not have done otherwise.

 

Five Top Spring Parties During Miami’s Electronic Music Week

At the end of every March, thousands and thousands of dance music fans from across the world converge on Miami, Florida for a week of networking and nonstop, nearly 24-hour parties. In previous years, most of the events convened around the annual Winter Music Conference, a long-running DJ/producer/label head convention that launched the whole spring-break-like week.

However, over the past decade, the centerpiece of the Winter Music Conference week rapidly became the associated Ultra Music Festival, which grew over the years from a one-off party on the beach to a two-day affair across a massive public park.

This year marks a watershed: Ultra Music Festival and Winter Music Conference have separated. The actual conference will be taking place earlier in March, with Ultra reigning supreme during the usual last week of the month in which both events previously happened. This turned out to be a bad move on Winter Music Conference, the organization — in an international mutiny, the major DJs and labels are still all having their parties that last week in March, while Ultra Music Festival itself has expanded to a whopping three days.

If you’re an electronic music fanatic, this spring week in Miami is not to be missed, on par on the international party circuit with the Ibiza season and the summer festival circuit. International exchange rates are in your favor, so if you decide to make the trip, here are five absolute must-attend events.







Josh Wink headlines a party for his own label, Ovum. Photo courtesy of Elite Music Management

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOXw1xz-c8w

DJ Mag’s Pool Parties
The Shelborne Hotel, Miami Beach
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 through Sunday, March 27

DJ Mag has long held some of the wildest daytime pool parties — as well as night club parties — during Winter Music Conference. But with the festivities split up this year into two weeks in March, the magazine is one of the few to host events during both time intervals. Coinciding with Ultra Music Festival, there is a full slate of both daytime and nighttime parties, occupying the poolside of the Shelborne hotel during sunlight and the hotel’s in-house club, Shine, at night. Highlights of the week include an Ovum label party on Thursday, March 24 featuring Josh Wink and Steve Bug, as well as a pool party on Saturday, March 26 sponsored by Pacha Ibiza. Visit wantickets.com/shelborne for the full lineup and ticket details.





Simian Mobile Disco headlines its own warm-up party. Image courtesy of the Windish Agency

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaZBba9tuSs

Simian Mobile Disco’s Delicatessen Party
Eve, Miami
Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two days before they take the stage for a live set at the Ultra Music Festival, Simian Mobile Disco will host its own party, dubbed Delicatessen, at the intimate, indoor-outdoor club Eve. To warm up, they’ll be playing a DJ set rather than a full-on live performance. But the two Jameses (Ford and Shaw) are walking musical encyclopedias who know how to work a crowd into a lather, so this is not to be missed. They’re joined on the decks for the evening by Berlin tech-house master Radio Slave, and New York underground club fixtures JDH and Dave P. Visit simianmobiledisco.co.uk for full details.







DJ/producer Diplo headlines the Miami edition of the Hard fest. Photo courtesy of the Windish Agency

Hard Miami
Grand Central, Miami
Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Hard Festival originally started out as a one-off event in Los Angeles, but has since mushroomed into an American brand of loud, rambunctious parties for a relatively young crowd of up-for-it ravers. The Hard sound is brash and in-your face, favoring pummeling basslines and high beats per minute. All the better if you’re all hopped up on caffeine, though (wink, wink). Headlining the event is the multi-genre production wizard Diplo, alongside Canadian electro-house artist Tiga. Support comes from Ed Banger stars like Brodinski, DJ Mehdi, Busy P, and SebastiAn, as well as the seemingly omnipresent Tinie Tempah. Visit hardfest.com for full details.






Dubstep star Rusko performs at Ultra. Image courtesy of the Windish Agency

Ultra Music Festival
Bicentennial Park, Miami
Friday, March 25, 2011 through Sunday, March 27, 2011

Over its nearly decade-and-a-half of existence, Ultra has expanded from a homegrown, oceanfront rave to one of the largest dance music festivals in the world. This year marks the first it’ll sprawl across three whole days of programming, during which nearly the entire world of dance music, full stop, will play. This includes trance titans like Tiesto abd Armin van Buuren, as well as dubstep dons like Rusko, as well as live acts like Cut Copy, Empre of the Sun, and even ’80s synth-pop legends Erasure. Add in there a head-spinning array of other favorites, from David Guetta to Carl Cox to MSTRKRFT to Royksopp to Crystal Castles to Klaxons to Chromeo to Tinie Tempah to Simian Mobile Disco. The music starts early and ends late, but early enough to hit the town for an array of all-night afterparties. Visit ultramusicfestival.com for full details.






Swedish House Mafia gives Ultra a run for its money on Saturday, March 26. Photo by Carl Lindstrom, courtesy of Astralwerks

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkQ5rEJaTmk

Swedish House Mafia’s Masquerade Motel
Venue TBA, Miami
Saturday, March 26, 2011

Swedish House Mafia gives Ultra a run for its money on Saturday, with its own megawatt daytime party that gathers together some of the biggest names in house. On their own, the trio of Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso are enough of an international draw, but they’ve upped the ante by inviting along megastars like Pete Tong, Armand Van Helden, Calvin Harris, Dirty South, and turntable whiz A-Trak. More guests are still to be announced, and they surely won’t disappoint. The actual venue for the party has yet to be announced, so visit swedishhousemafia.com for full details.

Three Top Pop Tours in February

No matter how many times you YouTube your favorite artist or hit play on that MP3, nothing compares to the rush of seeing live music. Onstage is where an artist really shows his or her true essence — does she prefer high drama? Is he a good dancer? Is she boring between hits? See for yourself this spring, when a number of tours launch across the U.K. Here are three top picks for national outings starting this month.

Will the rest of Jamie Woon's material sound like "Night Air?" courtesy of the Windish Agency

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL0pTo9Z_XU

Jamie Woon

While 27-year-old Londoner Jamie Woon released his first proper record, the EP Wayfaring Stranger, back in 2007, he didn’t achieve pop velocity until last year, thanks to his single “Night Air.” It was a moody, dubby, techno-inflected track married with soulful vocals and thoughtful lyrics. Clocking in at a relatively long five-plus minutes, the track ensnared listeners without obvious hooks or studio trickery.

The sound of that breakout hit is rather mellow, though, so Woon’s upcoming tour through the UK will be his chance to air out possibly more high-energy fare from his upcoming studio album debut, Moonwriting, due out in April. The tour begins 2 February at the Jericho in Oxford, playing some 11 dates and ending in Nottingham on 4 March. Visit jamiewoon.com for full details.





Toronto, Canada electro-noise duo Crystal Castles probably need little introduction on the NME Awards Tour. Courtesy of the Windish Agency

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsxNUl1IHnE

NME Awards Tour

In the recent past, the weekly new music bible’s annual awards tour has helped launch the careers of massive stars like Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, and Florence and the Machine. So the performers selected to join this year should feel lucky indeed — though electro-pop noisemakers Crystal Castles, from Canada, are already festival favorites and probably need little introduction. Also on the electronic side of things for this tour is supergroup Magnetic Man, the new project of dubstep producers Benga, Skream, and Artwork. Rounding out the lineup are Manchester art-rockers Everything Everything, as well as Londoners the Vaccines, who at times seem more than a little influenced by the Strokes’ droning jangle-rock.

The tour launches on 3 February at the O2 Academy in Glasgow, and ends on 19 February at the O2 Academy Brixton in London. Visit www.nme.com/tickets/artist/nme-awards-tour-2011 to purchase tickets.





Will Plan B go for hip-hop or soul? Photo by Jade Bremmer, via Wikimedia Commons

Plan B

Benjamin Paul Ballance-Drew, the multitalented entertainer known as Plan B, has proved himself to be an artistic chameleon since the mid-’00s. His first album, the 2006 effort Who Needs Actions When You Got Words, showed him to be, at the time, a more or less straightforward, though creative, hip-hop artist. In the ensuing years, though, he’s proven himself an equally able film actor and even director. And then came his sophomore record in 2001, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, which ditched the rap in favor of soulful crooning. So what turn will he take on his next album, due out later this year? No doubt his upcoming tour should give some clues. It begins 28 February at the Olympia in Dublin, and ends 10 March at the O2 Arena in London. Visit time4planb.co.uk for full details.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5lGCXiTHaY

Five Essential February Pop Albums

While we’re only into the second month of 2011, a number of upcoming albums promise to be huge contenders already for the year’s best. Here are five must-download records whose singles you will be hearing everywhere, any day now.

Mike Skinner, the man behind the Streets, photo CC by 2.0, via E. Birkedal on Wikimedia Commons

The Streets

Computers & Blues

Mike Skinner scored his first hits as the Streets nearly a decade ago, when his bedroom blend of garage and hip-hop seemed poised to voice the feelings of an entire generation of youth. His sophomore album, 2004′s A Grand Don’t Come For Free, yielded the megahit “Fit But You Know It,” but his next two studio albums floundered. It seemed as if Skinner’s heart wasn’t in it any more, and this past year, he confirmed it in public interviews — the Streets was, in his heart, done. Computers & Blues will serve as the final sendoff for his alternate persona, and it remains to be seen whether Skinner will go out with a bang, or just go out.





Bruno Mars aims for solo stardom, Photo CC by 2.0, via Brothers Le on Flickr

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkuoRGig4Cs

Bruno Mars

Earth to Mars

Songwriter and solo artist Bruno Mars boasts an only-in-America biography. Born Peter Gene Hernandez, he was born to a Filipino mother and a Puerto-Rican-by-way-of-Brooklyn father, and raised in Hawaii. While Mars’ ethnic background doesn’t much inform his blend of R&B ballads and pop-rock, perhaps it has given him a sense of how best to project everyman appeal. Mars has already stolen the show by singing hooks on massive hits like B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ on You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire.” Will his own standalone songs prove as equally successful?





Multiculti pop star Jay Sean aims for a truly global sound, photo CC by 2.0, via Rivarix on Wikimedia Commons

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uFalk1y38I

Jay Sean

Freeze Time

Born in London to Punjabi Sikh parents, Jay Sean, as part of the Rishi Rich Project, was among the first millennial pop stars to bring a banghra-pop fusion style to the mainstream. While this went down well in the U.K., it mostly fell on confused ears throughout the rest of the world — until, that is, the release of his late 2009 single “Down,” which featured Lil Wayne. The song was pure R&B-inflected dance-pop, and finally won Sean the kind of global recognition he craved. However, now he’s got a lot to live up to, and for his new album, he’s promised collaborations with such pop icons as Pitbull, Nicki Minaj, and Mary J. Blige. Sean now faces the challenge of exploring new, more inclusive turf without selling out the fans who have supported him from the beginning.





Alexis Jordan

Alexis Jordan

With a few exceptions — Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, most notably — American TV talent competitions have failed to produce the level of stars that have emerged from their U.K. counterparts. Hoping to buck that trend is teenage singer Alexis Jordan, who first gained attention in the 2006 season of America’s Got Talent. She was eliminated from the show, but struck back by uploading cover songs to YouTube, which garnered millions of views, and eventually a record deal on Jay-Z’s StarRoc/Roc Nation label. Her debut single, “Happiness,” already burned up the global club charts, and the follow-up, “Good Girl,” seems positioned to do so as well. But will the rest of the album turn up further hits, or will it just serve as filler?





Clare Maguire's take on pop is darker than most. photo by SØREN SOLKÆR STARBIRD, via Wikimedia Commons

Clare Maguire

Light After Dark

Birmingham native Clare Maguire may be mentioned in the same breath as Jessie J., but that’s only because they’re both set to become the year’s biggest female pop stars. That’s about where the similarity ends, because while Jessie goes for bubblier fare, Maguire boasts a darker edge to her take on electronic pop. She also boasts one of the more unique pop singing voices in recent years, with an expressive, deeper range that recalls ’80s greats like Annie Lennox. What’s more, unlike the case of other pop tarts, Maguire penned all of her new album herself.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtdsqUlPdCk

Actresses Turned Singers

In Hollywood, it is not uncommon for actors or singers to try to switch roles. A slew of actresses have attempted to make their way to the number #1 slot on Billboard. Likewise, many singers have tried their hand at performing on the silver screen. Unfortunately, not many female artists have made this role switch successfully; although there have been a few that have made their actress-turned-singer debuts a hit.

Bette Midler started as an actress on Broadway, and her singing debut opened up in 1972 in a duo with Barry Manilow. Midler has continued to act and sing, and some of her most successful films now include Ruthless People and The Rose. Her hit songs include “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and “From a Distance.” Of course, Midler did have a few flops along the way in her singing and acting career; Big Business being one of her most criticized films to date.

Courtney Love is another successful actress-turned-singer; however, her original acting career wasn’t much of a hit. It wasn’t until she turned to singing that her Hollywood career took off. After a number of Billboard hits, Love took a shot at the silver screen, yet again. Her second shot fared much more successful, thanks to her newfound Billboard fame. Her greatest acting hit was The People vs. Larry Flint, which won her a Golden Globe nomination.

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZzeO232Mdc

Nicole Kidman was also a success story amongst the actress-turned-singer phenomenon. Her acting career started in small Australian films and shows, and her breakthrough came after starring in the film Dead Calm. Although she does not have an extensive music career, the film Moulin Rouge put this actress on the music charts. Another actress currently going singer: Gwyneth Paltrow. She is expected to star in the movie Country Strong in January of 2011. As to whether it will end in harmony or crash and burn is yet to be determined by fans and critics around the globe.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbuQ3XQrbGY

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

Unfortunately, not every actress-turned-singer makes a graceful entry into a music career. In fact, for every successful story, there are at least a handful of actresses that flop in their music careers, or vice versa. For example, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez have all had their fair share of transitional embarrassment, and only time will tell if these pop queens will have another chance at success on the big screen.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JnAapuVbtk

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

The Face of Pop Today: What’s Next?

The term pop music, not to be confused with popular music, refers to a genre of music that is intended for the widest listening audience. Pop artists sell more albums, their songs are played throughout different radio stations, and they draw the largest concert audiences compared to many other genre artists.

Starting in 1955 with Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock,” pop music often derives its root elements from rock ‘n roll. However, its influence can include one or more genres and music styles all together.

Over the years, the face of pop music has changed from Bill Haley to The Beatles, and from Madonna to Britney Spears. Today, we have the daring, controversial Lady Gaga. How is this change defined, and what exactly has perpetuated it? More importantly, what does the future look like for pop music?

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSVbwwsLPqw

Madonna

Madonna

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uhiItmIovk

Fifty years ago, pop music bands needed to have a mainstream sound if they hoped to make it in the music world. There wasn’t a lot of room for new sounds, new looks, or new bands. If a band wasn’t mainstream, it often fell through the cracks and was buried before it even had a chance to rise. Today, this is not the case. In fact, the opposite is embraced.

The evolution of technology has made it possible for new sounds, new artists, and new looks to build a fan base before they officially start recording. With the help of social networks and on-line videos and exposure, many artists are already popular before they are signed by a record company. Although building this fan base takes time and word of mouth, bands with a different sound get noticed quicker and more often, consequently providing fans with a new taste for their ever-changing music palates.

Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John

It is not to say that artists from the 80’s like Madonna and Olivia Newton-John were not quality artists. These artists just needed to fit loosely into a mold that had already been preset by the music industry. However, someone as iconic as Madonna has been considered to be one of the most influential artists to change the face of pop. Often, an artist that has pushed the envelope, particularly in the realm of sexuality, has helped paved the way for current artists such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga.

Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Abk1jAONjw

It is uncertain what the future holds for pop music, but one thing is clear. More musicians will make their way to the top of the charts thanks to the evolution of technology, the artists that came before them, and the ever-changing musical tastes of our evolving generation.

Five Essential Funky Electro-Pop Artists

Who listens to music by a single “genre” any more? Thanks to the advent of seemingly endless iTunes libraries and music fans’ ever-more open minds, the best pop music today leaps across old stylistic boundaries. It’s clear, though, that the boundary the most exciting pop acts these days are often crashing is that of dance music. Underground electro sounds are increasingly finding their way filtered into the mainstream, while once-indie acts who just kept it real are being rewarded with crossover success.

Everyone who’s shopped, driven, or flipped on a TV knows acts like Lady Gaga and Ke$ha, who rely heavily on absorbing club sounds into radio-friendly. But climbing the ranks behind them are a number of bands who have been plying their danceable electro-pop trade on the trendsetting circuits. Here are five funky electro-pop artists to get to know soon.

Dan Black - courtesy of the Windish Agency

Dan Black - courtesy of the Windish Agency

Dan Black

Origin: London, U.K.

Essential Track: “Symphonies”

danblacksound.com

London resident Dan Black is the ultimate pop mad scientist, first gaining Internet notoriety in 2009 for his single “HYPNTZ,” which found him lyrically riffing off the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” while sampling Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” Still, Black was once a proper rocker, as frontman of the band the Servant, and as such, his music isn’t all froth. Rather, he brings real melody and song structure to his own original compositions, which borrow freely from R&B and hip-hop instrumentation. It’s a sensibility reflected in his latest crossover hit, a remix of his single “Symphonies” with a guest appearance from Kid Cudi. Check out the video for the Kid Cudi collboration, and download a different remix of the song, by U.S. electro-poppers Passion Pit, below.

MP3 Link:

http://rcrdlbl.com/artists/Dan_Black/track/Symphonies_Passion_Pit_Remix









Chromeo - Courtesy of the Windish Agency

Chromeo - Courtesy of the Windish Agency

Chromeo

Origin: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Essential Track: “Hot Mess”

chromeo.net

The duo of Dave 1 (David Macklovitch) and P-Thugg (Patrick Gemayel) may hail from Montreal, but as Chromeo, they’ve absorbed all of the cheesy dance flotsam of the U.S. and U.K. and turned it into something new and funky. Disco, hip-hop, easy listening, Latin freestyle, and ’80s electro all meet in a blaze of live instrumentation and analog synth, complete with over-the-top romantic — or just plain lascivious — lyrics. For a taste, check out this video for the track “Hot Mess” off the group’s third and most recent album, Business Casual. It features Elly Jackson of La Roux on guest vocals. Below the video, get a free remix of the track by U.S. dance duo Duck Sauce.

MP3 Link:

http://rcrdlbl.com/artists/Chromeo/track/Hot_Mess_feat_Elly_Jackson_Duck_Sauce_Remix____









Cut Copy - photo by Leo Cackett, courtesy of the Windish Agency

Cut Copy - photo by Leo Cackett, courtesy of the Windish Agency

Cut Copy

Origin: Melbourne, Australia

Essential Track: “Where I’m Going”

cutcopy.net

Titans on the Aussie electro scene anchored by Modular Recordings, Cut Copy have been at their live/electronic blend of dancefloor jams for nearly a decade. Though the band draws heavily on ’80s New Wave and post-punk styles, their output is decidedly pop. The band’s new, third album, Zonoscope, takes things even further in this direction. Its lead single, “Where I’m Going,” is full of big, sunny, singalong hooks over the usual bank of synthesizers. Download the song below — although it’s so new, a video hasn’t yet been released!

MP3 Link:

http://rcrdlbl.com/artists/Cut_Copy/track/Where_Im_Going









Does It Offend You, Yeah? - CC by ND 2.0, via Schröder+Schömbs PR on Flickr

Does It Offend You, Yeah? - CC by ND 2.0, via Schröder+Schömbs PR on Flickr

Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Origin: Reading, U.K.

Essential Track: “We Are the Dead”

doesitoffendyou.com

This Reading fivesome first gained attention at the tail end of the so-called New Rave scene, but have survived such trendy categorization on the strength of its unique take on punk-funk. DIOYY play colossal-sounding dance music, but do so exclusively through live instrumentation, giving their songs a heavy, fist-pump-worthy texture.

Though the band is already a favorite on the festival circuit, thanks to (somewhat unlikely) tour support slots for the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Linkin Park, the boys may be ready to break out even further. Below, check out the video, and download an MP3 of, the band’s song “We Are the Dead.” It’s the lead single from the band’s forthcoming sophomore album, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You. (To download, once the link takes you to the band’s Soundcloud page for the track, hit the down arrow under the word “info” on the right-hand side of the player.)


MP3 Link:

http://soundcloud.com/does-it-offend-you-yeah/we-are-the-dead-1









Kids of 88 - photo CC by 3.0, via Sony Music Entertainment on Wikimedia Commons

Kids of 88 - photo CC by 3.0, via Sony Music Entertainment on Wikimedia Commons

Kids of 88

Origin: Auckland, New Zealand

Essential Track: “My House”

kidsof88.com

This Kiwi duo first scored a major hit in its native New Zealand back in 2008 with its debut single, “My House.” Though it’s one of the group’s oldest tracks, it’s still one of the best, summing up the band’s take on electro-pop: sexy, slightly sleazy, and carried by a decidedly rock and roll swagger. (Actually, make that more than slightly sleazy: The pair proudly self-describes its music as “slutty.”) Rude or not, the songs on the group’s debut album, Sugarpills, are indelibly catchy and danceable, and thanks to airplay on major networks like the U.S.’ VH1, may be poised for a big breakthrough beyond the South Pacific. Below, check out the colorful video for “My House,” and download a free remix of the song, courtesy of the Remix Artist Collective.


MP3 Link:

http://sneakattackmedia.com/media/KO88/RAC_KidsOf88_Remix.WAV