One of the blogosphere’s more interesting stories of late has been the rapid rise of Sonny Moore, better known now as Skrillex, in the electro scene. With only two EPs to his name on deadmau5’s label, Moore at one point had six songs near the top of the Beatport Top 100, a site that specializes in electronic releases and is an excellent barometer of artist success. This is a feat that has never happened before, and it’s even more fascinating when you learn that Moore, who was the former frontman for post-hardcore band From First To Last, only began DJing in the past couple of years. His debut EP came out in June, while Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, featuring this rather filthy dubstep remix by everyone’s favorite Dutch drum ‘n bass trio Noisia, was just released last month. Who knew all that pent-up hardcore aggression would translate so well to electro?
A couple of weeks ago Sputnikmusic’s own Ryan Flatleyinterviewed DJ Pretty Lights in preparation for his performance this upcoming weekend at the massive NYC dance festival Electric Zoo. Headlining that festival is Dutch trance DJ/producer/radio show host Armin van Buuren, who’s gearing up for his fourth album release in September by playing nearly nonstop this past year. And when DJ Magazine has voted you the #1 DJ in the world for three straight years, gigs aren’t exactly in short supply. We were lucky enough to catch up with Armin before his headlining appearance at the UK’s definitive dance festival Creamfields this past weekend.
Rudy Klapper: Being the number one DJ in the world is a pretty demanding job, particularly when you’ve been voted the best multiple years as you have. How has 2010 been turning out so far as you gear up for your album release?
Armin van Buuren: Well, it’s been really, really phenomenal. I thought last year was sort of the peak for myself but this year I’m releasing my new album, I’ve been doing a little less DJing in general because I want to focus on that. But I still toured South America and North America, some stuff in Asia. But yeah, in the summer though I’ve just been full on doing a gig almost every day and it’s been really fantastic. Now I have 21 new tracks finished and I’m very proud.
This was released online a couple of weeks ago, but I totally had no idea Ra Ra Riot were even releasing a new album until last week. Since then The Orchard (which comes out 8/24) has been pretty much all I’ve been listening to. Can’t say I was a huge fan of their debut, which reeked of a bit too much Vampire Weekend, but their new album is far more stately, pushing the strings (and those gorgeous girls) to the front of the mix and generally slowing the pace down. Of course, “Boy” differs from most else on the album by being ridiculously bubbly, but it’s also infinitely catchy and is just the kind of summer tune I want right now.
Featuring some sexual production from dubstep producer Rusko and English DJ Switch, “Teqkilla” is easily one of the best tunes of M.I.A.’slove-it/hate-it new record. Like a certain fine south-of-the-border spirit, “Teqkilla” is the kind of thing that becomes more agreeable with each spin, glitchy beats and tribal drums propelling a ferocious beat.
If I thought Day 1 was packed, Day 2 took things to a whole new level, making it extremely hard to walk anywhere efficiently (and definitely not without a group constantly linking hands), and making the floor of the main stage a lost cause before I even arrived. I dared to see some trance at the Neon Garden when I first arrived, catching Aly & Fila and a whole bunch of fluorescent-painted individuals who must’ve been the happiest concertgoers I’d seen yet just fist-pumping like it was Jersey Shore West Coast-edition. Next up was will.i.am at the main stage, who stuck out like a sore thumb on the lineup sheet and played a predictably oddball set heavy in funk classics to liven the crowd up as the sun began to set.
Photo courtesy of Spin.com
Filipino/Dutch DJ Laidback Luke followed will.i.am, and was playing when what was easily the most surreal experience of the festival occurred. The floor had long been closed to any more spectators, but as Luke continued to play unruly concertgoers began to wash over the high fences barricading the stands from the floor, spilling onto the floor and causing absolute havoc among security. The sound was soon cut off, and from my vantage point way up in the stands, the combination of what looked to be a surefire riot, helicopters suddenly swooping low overhead, and the stadium in a frenzy, was terrifying but really, really fucking cool all…
Over 80 artists and DJs. Five stages running the gamut from house to dubstep to trance and more. 185,000+ people attending and dancing until 2 a.m. over two days. More Ecstasy pills than the population of Los Angeles. Calling the annual L.A. Electric Daisy Carnival a mere “rave” is an insult to something that has to be considered one of the largest music events in the world, not to mention an intense kaleidoscope of sounds and visuals that require far more work and setup than your average festival show. Oh, and don’t forget the varied array of carnival rides, from your standard Ferris wheel and fun house to spinning tops and massive swings (best ridden sober). With such a breadth of artists and experiences to be sampled it’s practically impossible to catalogue every highlight of the weekend, and the fact that the Coliseum grounds where the event was held was nearly impossible to traverse effectively past sundown made it difficult to see everyone I wanted, but those I did rarely disappointed.
…and this was EARLY
Opening at 2 in the afternoon every day, the festival was already jam packed by the time I arrived (usually around 4-ish), and like Coachella before it, EDC’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past couple of years. The main stage (the Coliseum stadium including the floor) was half empty during the Friday headliner in 2009; this year they closed off floor access before sunset,…
We’re deep in summer already, so what band to turn to then the band that dominated a solid half of my summer last year? Vancouver punk duo Japandroids have been working on a project that sees them releasing a series of 7-inch singles over the course of the year – “Younger Us” (along with a cover of X’s “Sex and Dying in High Society”) being the second. If you want a copy, you better hurry, as there’s only 2500 clear vinyl copies available (buy here). As for the song, it’s sort of a bizarro version of “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” with a similar guitar part and surging drums, all wrapped loosely around Brian King’s lusty, nostalgic lyrics. In other words, it’s Japandroids, and it rocks.
A few weeks ago Nick Butler posted this track, which directly challenged my manhood when it came to filthy, grimy, disgusting dubstep. What Butler doesn’t know is that I carry trash bags with me on a regular basis. Enjoy this particular overseas artifact, which proves that everything in Japan is indeed dirtier.
One of my great regrets from this year’s Coachella was not being able to catch Swedish-American electro trio Miike Snow Sunday evening, but I wasn’t going to miss Spoon on the main stage and Phoenix’s ridiculously energetic set. God bless Los Angeles, then, for hosting four (!) separate dates by the pop uber-producers, whose only non-sold out show was the one I made it to a half-hour away in Pomona last night. I was worried that this would be the band’s weakest set coming at the tail end of more prominent shows in Hollywood, but they put on a four-hour set that might crack my Top 3 concerts of all time once my ears finally stop ringing.
Although there were still tickets available at the door, the Fox Theatre, a mid-sized theatre with a sizable balcony, was still packed almost to the brim by the time openers Canon Blue headed off and Miike Snow arrived to the tribal beat of “Cult Logic.” Along with singer Andrew Wyatt and DJs Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, the band had enlisted another keyboardist, bassist, and drummer to put on their entirely live show. The band’s superb eponymous debut, released last summer, was a largely electronic one, but the group played everything live through what looked like some very expensive sets of synthesizer and DJ equipment. They also came out inexplicably decked in Jason-esque masks that weren’t removed until the charged wall-of-sound guitar solo that ended “Black & Blue” about halfway…
We’re generally encouraged to post new tracks here, but as I haven’t quite given Sunderland four-piece the Futureheads’ fourth record, The Chaos, a proper listen yet, I didn’t really have any relevant options. Then I remembered this supremely unique, supremely awesome Kate Bush cover (listen to the original here), which pretty much launched the band’s career back in 2004. It’s everything a cover should be – fun, tongue-in-cheek with the proper amount of respect, and arguably better than the original. The only shame is that the band still hasn’t come close to topping it six years later.
The Chaos comes out this Tuesday.
If there’s a band that better embodies summer than Philadelphia-based five-piece Free Energy, I haven’t found it. Driving with the windows open, hitting up the beach, lazing away on the couch with absolutely nothing to do or plan other than doing whatever the hell you want – summer is just as much a feeling as it is a season. And Free Energy’s superb debut, Stuck on Nothing, encapsulates that indescribable sense of freedom better than anything I’ve heard all year. Summer’s here: don’t let it go to waste.
After solo albums by practically every member in this indie supergroup, Canadians (and Virginian fox Neko Case) the New Pornographers released their fifth album today, the aptly named Together. I wanted to pick a lesser known song then their first single for this Track of the Day, but damn! it’s just too good. One of the most propulsive melodies on the record lit up by a killer lead vocal by Case and surprisingly apocalyptic lyrics coming from one of music’s sunnier bands. After her strong performance on this album and last year’s Middle Cyclone, I’d have to consider Case in my top 3 female indie vocalists.
“The ruins were wild / Tonight will be an open mic.”
Dutch DJ trio Noisia have long been fixtures in the drum ‘n bass scene, but new album Split The Atom is way too filthy for any one genre. Electro, house, breaks, dubstep; all and more are incorporated on the sickest party record of the new decade, and single “Machine Gun” is perhaps the best representation of this mish-mashing of styles. There are plenty of excellent remixes of the song as well (YouTube the 16Bit version if you don’t mind showering afterwards), but the original is still the most guaranteed to kick any party into high gear. Like if Darth Vader DJed a rave.
Waking up from a generous two hours of sleep on Sunday didn’t really do wonders for my outlook on the day, and it was obvious from the moment I entered back onto the festival grounds that a lot of people felt the same way. The whole vibe on Sunday was entirely different from the rest of the festival, a feeling of comedown shaded with “I can’t believe this is almost over.” It was sort of depressing, but the lineup more than made up with it with more of my favorite bands than either of the two previous days.
I first proceeded to the Sahara to see English dubstep producer Rusko, despite my earlier promise that I couldn’t handle any more wobble in my life. Rusko has always been more accessible than the darker dubstep that many of his countrymen prefer, injecting elements of house and dance with an upbeat sound that had the mid-afternoon crowd shaking off any Tiesto hangover they might have brought along. Following that I hustled over to the Outdoor Stage to see a bit of Deerhunter’s trippy live act, a frenetic set unfortunately marred by numerous technical difficulties. Bradford Cox’s unveiling of a new Deerhunter song that name-dropped “Coachella 2010” in the chorus was the clear winner amongst the crowd.
Florence and the Machine had the Gobi tent packed far past capacity by the time the redheaded songstress finally made it on stage fifteen minutes past…
Woke up at seven in the morning, went to the communal showers at the campgrounds, finally succeeded in showering by 9:30. Did I mention camping was a terrible idea? Although I had marked down Portugal. The Man as my likely first set of the day, the intense heat at the campgrounds had me headed for any shade I could find at the festival. I decided to hit up Rx Bandits on Sputnik’s recommendation and was presently surprised – despite the rather small showing thanks to the early (12:30) set time, the band played their hearts out on the Outdoor Stage, causing a number of passerby to question who they were. The guitar dueling between Matt Embree and Steve Choi was a particular highlight, the group making a good case for a later time slot next year with a high-energy set that leaned heavily on the group’s newest album Mandala.
Portugal. The Man predictably tore it up over at the Gobi stage shortly after two, playing to a crowd that was already spilling far out of the tent by 2:30. The band was expansive and appropriately psychedelic in the desert heat, with frontman John Gourley leading the way with memorable guitar lines and a confident vocal performance that the crowd took to immediately. The best received were those off The Satanic Satanist, particularly the sing-a-longs of “The Sun” and “People Say,” and the feedback-drenched jam session that they closed with set the bar quite high for the…