Make it Personal

Watch out, I’m about to drop an existential bomb on all y’all. It won’t hurt. I promise.

Life is about making connections– to people, to places, to ideas and values and God(s). There are different kinds of connections: friendship, romance, fanaticism. Each has it’s own feeling that distinguishes it from the rest. To me, one of the most interesting connections is between an artist and the people who “consume” his art.

Your four year old niece’s drawing of a dinosaur done exclusively in green crayon is special because, well, because your four year old niece drew it. That piano recital with twenty kids under the age of thirteen? You really only listened when your brother/sister/child was on stage. Having a personal connection to the artist makes the art itself very different. (That’s assuming, of course, it’s a positive connection.)

The Internet makes it easier for fans to connect with artists. Those connections make modern music meaningful in a new way. Sure, following Andre 3000 on Twitter isn’t the same as having a deep conversation with him. I don’t really know Jay-Z just because I saw a thirty-second clip of him candidly speaking backstage. But both of those instances are more of a connection than nothing. Both function as a small peek into the artist’s world, creating a small (albeit one-sided) personal connection.

And for many amateur bands/musicians, there’s a much stronger (and two-sided) connection. Smaller artists will respond to e-mails, send Facebook messages or write on MySpace walls. Some will agree to interviews. Today’s music scene is more “personal” than any other in history. And these personal connections are getting stronger, making the music more meaningful. The Internet is connecting us. The connections are making the music more meaningful. Group hug.

The Cheerz

This new stuff from The Cheerz hit my inbox about a week ago via their music label Moveltraxx. The latest EP is deceptively long: it’s really just three songs remixed a bunch of times. But don’t worry– there’s enough variety on this album to keep you interested.

Four songs are posted below. The first three come from the EP. These songs have some of the best drums I’ve heard in a while, high-energy and always changing. The rhythm section includes cymbals, drums, bells, whistles, even gunshots. The fourth song is an Uh Oh Disco exclusive. It’s a killer remix that didn’t quite make the cut for the EP. One thing is clear– anyone with b-sides this good is pretty damn talented.

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The Cheerz – Whooz Da Baddest (Big Dope P Remix)

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The Cheerz – Monsta (Original Mix)

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The Cheerz – La French Patrass (Douster Remix)

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The Cheerz – Monsta (Li’ll Bo Tweak Remix)

Jungle: The Next Big Thing

Now I know, you’re all prepared to blast me on the title. How can jungle be the next big thing when it already came and went 20 years ago? I’ll tell you how.

The word “nu” (and yes, it’s spelled correctly) carries a considerable amount of weight. That is, tacking “nu” onto the front of any old or outdated genre has the astonishing ability to not only inform us that this is not, in fact, that same as what it used to be, but also that this version of the genre carries with it some kind of distinguishing sparkle that the former never had. Disco became “nu disco” (they tightened it up and swapped out the live arrangements for electronics), rave became “nu rave,” and just like those that went before it, I’m fully expecting that we’ll soon be hearing word of “nu jungle,” en-route.

So why, you ask, is jungle going to be the genre to make a resurgence over, say Wisconsin Style Polka? Because dubstep is towing it in, of course! It goes without saying that the Wah Wah Square-Saw Wobble Native Instruments Massive synth sound played itself out in the dubstep world pretty quickly, and as such, the leaders of the pack (try Skream, Benga, and even Modselektor) have been turning their in different directions: more snare, less nasty, more catchy, and of course, ever more sub. I suppose you could say Jungle has been rearing its head as far back as Skream’s In For the Kill remix (the last 45 seconds or so are a break lover’s dream), but in the months following, its existence has become undeniable. Dubstep is now flooded with breaks, and though we’re only halfway there (most of the pioneering tracks are still being recorded at standard 140bpm dubstep tempo as opposed to the faster, 155 of classic jungle), I feel it’s safe to say that once Skream does something, a solid chunk of the rest of the scene is bound to follow. I give it 8 months.

Oh, and Datsik. You’ve got some thinking to do.
Edit–
Having received several heated emails from people who seem quite determined to prove that Modeselektor is not, in fact, dubstep, I figured I should share a few things.

  1. Modeselektor may not have been explicitly branded as a dubstep artist, but this is simply because the music they produce encompasses a lot more than just a single genre, which is why I wrote “and even Modeselektor” instead of just listing them above.
  2. If you find it hard to believe that Modeselektor has anything to do with dubstep, take a look at their latest mixtape, entitled Body Language Vol. 8. Tracks 10 – 18 are all dubstep tunes by everyone from Joker and Benga to Untold. Further, the Modeselektor guys stated in an interview for IDJ that the sound they chose to go with for the mix was heavily influenced by dubstep.
  3. Modeselektor won the dubstep artist of the year award on Beatport in 2008 (Source)

I think the moral of the story is that people have lost the ability to differentiate dubstep from dudestep. Just because an artist doesn’t have wonky Rusko Datsik bass sounds doesn’t mean they’re not dubstep. I would even argue that Rusko and Datsik are even less dubstep artists than the aforementioned, as their sound is largely a bastardized version of what was originally called dubstep.

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Donae’o – Riot Music (Skream Remix)

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M Beat – Incredible

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Jahcoozi – Black Barbie (Modeselektor Remix)
(This one doesn’t quite fit with the rest in that it’s really more of a breakcore tune, and it was released in (gasp) 2006, but it still sheds light on the many unopened directional doors of dance music.)

Voices, Vocals and Vocoders




Remember that poster in your elementary school music room that said “If you can talk, you can sing?” It was wrong. Everyone can talk, most people can’t sing. I belong to the wish-I-could-but-can’t group. (And of all the things I wish I could do– dunk a basketball, speak French, avoid every mosquito on the plant– singing tops my list. Maybe that’s why I’m a sucker for good vocals.







But let’s be honest with ourselves, most modern electronic songs aren’t known for their singing. When someone talks about the “vocal track” of an EDM son, it’s usually a distorted loop that’s been run through so many effects it sounds like a robot voice. The vocals sit in the passenger seat while the drums/synths/bass drive.

It’s always nice to take a break from my usual listening habits and enjoy some good old-fashioned singing. No effects. No distortions. Just pure old-fashioned singing coming straight from the lungs. So today let’s pause and salute those people who hit the high notes and stay on key. I’m jealous of you, I’m happy for you, I’m glad you exist. Keep doing what you’re doing.

Remember that other poster that said something like “The human voice is the best instrument in the world?” Maybe it was right.







These first two tracks are from legendary soul singer Lyn Collins. Her singing voice is, in my opinion, one of the best to ever get pressed onto  vinyl. There’s a reason she’s one of the most sampled artists in history.

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Lyn Collins – Think (About It)

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Lyn Collins – Me And My Baby Got Our Own Thing Going




This next track showed up in my inbox the other day and really surprised me. The artist is Denver’s Kamtin Mohager, but he records and performs under the name The Chain Gang of 1974. His voice works well against the electro undertones of the track. Give it a listen.

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The Chain Gang of 1974 – Stop

Rusko – O.M.G.

So Rusko’s album dropped earlier this week, and though it turned out to be nearly everything I expected it to be, I couldn’t help but find myself feeling disappointed. Why? I’m struggling to figure it out myself, because having made a list of everything I don’t like about it, I’ve realized that all the items in the list are simultaneously the reasons that I fell in love with the guy’s music in the first place.

  • The album doesn’t take itself the least bit seriously
  • Each track is a completely new idea, and has nothing to do with the ones settled around it
  • Rusko tends to wander bit too far out of his comfort zone
  • The synths are cheezy
  • The spontaneous talk-boxing throughout the album makes the album sound like half the ideas were contributed by a confused Peter Frampton

How is it possible that every single item on the list of reasons I don’t like Rusko’s album is also on the list of reasons that I love Rusko? What kind of sense does that make?

But then it hit me: It’s the album concept that’s ruining it for me. We’ve been trained by the music industry to expect albums to be audio journeys that carry us from track to track. We expect albums to tell stories and paint pictures and use common sounds. Rusko’s album literally does none of that, and you know what? I’m pretty sure he is fully and completely aware of that fact. I think he did it on purpose. I mean, after all, the album is entitled O.M.G.. Far be it from me to claim the exact origins, but I personally have interpreted it to represent everything from this cultureless, soulless, metephorless, blatently text-based generation we belong to, to simply the “O face” we all make when that epic single happens to find its way onto the hype machine. Rusko didn’t put out an album; He put out 14 tracks at the same time. And had those 14 tracks made their way onto my computer by means of a combination of music blogs, promos, and RCRDLBL releases, they would have sketched a completely different image it my mind.

Next time I go to see the guy, I’m going to head out, fully expecting to see the mohawk sporting, neon glasses wearing, single dropping Brit I’ve come to love, and in all honesty, if he tries to tries to make my night into a “musical journey,” I’m gonna be a little ticked. Let’s leave that for Pink Floyd. I just wanna show people my bass face.

Here’s a tip: Grab Rusko‘s album, but before listening to the tracks, go through and delete the album name and track number from each file. That way, when you listen, it’ll be like hearing Jahova for the first time all over again: guaranteed.

Oh and the talk-boxing I half-heartedly picked on earlier? I lied. It’s straight steezy, and it’s just about the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.

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Rusko – Oy (feat. Crookers)

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Rusko – Scareware