Mike Hawkins - Crocodile (Future House)

Mike Hawkins pushes the boundaries of electronic music with one of his most energetic tracks to date. Originally a DJ and producer from Denmark, Mike Hawkins has had some major Big Room and Future House releases in the past five years; most of which are featured on Spinnin Records. He uses a lot of big leads and pulverizing synths in his music, which makes it appropriate for large festivals. The track “Crocodile” features a lot of innovation in the rhythm and sound design. The build-up has some classic trancy synths you would see in a KSHMR or R3hab track, with some epic reverb-laden vocals and melodies. This build-up is accompanied by a very unique and unexpected drop both timing-wise and synth-wise. The drop itself features a heavy bass that hits you off-beat, layered with a strikingly raw steel drum melody. Mike plays with the rhythm of this unusual synth in the second drop as well, adding to the intensity of the track. It's refreshing to see artists expand their sound design and create unique synths like Mike Hawkins has in this track.If you’re looking for more Mike Hawkins tracks, check out his biggest release on Spinnin Records, “Lovestruck”, featuring Big Room producer Borgeous.  

deadmau5 & Shotty Horroh - Legendary (Hip-Hop x Dubstep)

What a fascinating track! I can’t believe I haven’t heard this before, but it deserves all the appreciation and interest it can get. Legendary Canadian producer, Deadmau5, seems to be experimenting with hip-hop music, which is a new style for him considering how well he is known for his progressive house tracks. I remember listening to a lot of tracks on“Random Album Title” and “4x4=12”, which contain some of the most legendary tracks in the progressive genre. The problem with being a deadmau5 fan is that he doesn’t release music regularly. So, when I found this track I was pleasantly surprised. Deadmau5 produces a unique beat that hits you unexpectedly after a somewhat jazzy intro. The beat seems to be a combination of hip-hop and dubstep. You have a punchy bass drum with a hard-hitting snare, against the backdrop of a wobbly, grungy bass synth. On top of that, you have this fluty pluck in the background that gives the song a unique sound and rhythm. The vocalist, Shotty Horroh, is a UK battle rapper famous for his quick and witty bars. He compliments the beat very well with his cold, standoffish lines. I hope Deamau5 continues to explore Hip Hop, as this track a good break from the usual trends we’re seeing in rap today, both instrumentally and vocally. Shout out to Shotty Horroh for experimenting with dubstep and trying something new. We need to see more of this fusion in the music world! If you want to hear more of these two, check out another track they worked on called ‘Okay’.

Paris & Simo - GLow (feat. nikon) - Deep House

We’re starting the first blog post of the new year with a deep house track by Canadian Duo Paris & Simo. This group is typically known for big-room and progressive house tracks they’ve released in the past such as “Escape” featuring 3LAU which was also featured on Revealed Recordings back in 2013. It seems not unlike most of the 2013/2014-era EDM duos, Paris & Simo are starting to tailor their sound to a more contemporary audience. If you look at the YouTube comments, you’ll find a few dissatisfied listeners who expect the duo to release songs synonymous with their earlier progressive style tracks. While I agree that I would have preferred a less generic track, it’s nice to see artists change their styles and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a basic deep house song. More often than not, in a world where music tastes are so fickle, artists must adapt their styles. In this track, Paris & Simo have created a tropical atmosphere with reverb-laden, sidechained chords you would find in a Kygo song. Nikon’s standard high-pitched R&B vocals along with the chopped vocals in the drop add to the beachy, relaxed ambiance and fit in well with the rhythm and melody of the song. It’s refreshing to see that Paris & Simo can adapt their skills and create a smooth tropical house track. For you Northeasterners out there, hopefully this summery track will help you cope with such a harsh winter. Stay warm! 

Skrillex & Diplo ft. Post Malone & 21 Savage - Rockmind (Trap)

Happy New Year music lovers! Let’s pop some champagne and celebrate 2017 with the DROP OF THE YEAR. This explosive track is everything I love about EDM and rap mashups. If you haven’t subscribed to SWOG Music on YouTube, do it now. You won’t regret it. This channel has some of the best mashups I’ve heard. They really manage to blend disparate tracks together, almost making the result sound like an original track! Here, they’ve mixed a Crankdat remix of Post Malone’s new single “rockstar” with Karol Tip’s edit of “Mind” by Jack Ü. You have Crankdat’s enticing, energetic buildup, which leads into one of the most MIND-BLOWING DROPS I’ve heard all year. The sensual, wooden flute melody against the backdrop of the distorted bass creates such a clean, but filthy drop. To anyone DJing a new year’s party tonight, make sure you have this song in your arsenal of music. The crowd will enjoy singing along to the lyrics of “rockstar” while bouncing to this insane drop. I can only imagine how fun this would be to play live at a venue, especially on new year’s eve. Shout out to SWOG for posting this! Check out their other mashups where they play around with more unique drops. A personal favorite of mine is their mashup of Travis Scott’s “Goosebumps”. Remember, if you play this track at 11:59:03 tonight, it will drop at exactly midnight. Start off your new year right.

Tommy Trash & i_o ft. Daisy Guttridge - Oxygen (Progressive House)

A refreshing track by Tommy Trash, an artist known for big room bangers such as “Cascade”, “Reload” and his remix of Steve Aoki’s “Ladi Dadi”. He seems to be experimenting with different genres these days, and he’s on the right track (no pun intended). The other artist involved in this collaboration, i_o, was recently signed to Mau5trap Records, Deadmau5’s Record Label. Tommy Trash and i_o have come together to create a bouncy track using an uplifting progressive house chord progression you would typically find in a deadmau5 song. The drop has a side-chained future-house bassline that adds to the overall energy of the song, along with Daisy Guttridge’s catchy reverb-laden vocals. Guttridge and Tommy Trash have collaborated in the past in his track “Sinners”, another unusual but noteworthy production by the Big Room artist featured on Chill Nation. But getting back to “Oxygen”, the combination of i_o’s progressive influence and Tommy Trash’s hardstyle background provide for a powerful, energetic track perfect for a club or exercise playlist. I look forward to hearing more from both artists in the future in terms of personal projects and any more collaborations they have on the way. 

Post Malone - rockstar (Romanescu Codrin Remix) - Deep House

You can always count on Mr. Revillz to give you some amazing remixes. This gem is a remix by Romanian artist Romanescu Codrin, a deep house producer who doesn’t stray far from similar artists you would see on channels like Lithuania HQ. The original cover of the Post Malone song is sung by Sofia Karlberg, whose soothing vocals have covered many more pop songs. Please show her some support and check out her channel, because Mr. Revillz did not credit her in the description which is definitely wrong on their part as a music channel. Romanescu nails the rhythm and the bassline with a punchy bass synth used in a countless number of deep house songs. He adds some reverb and sprinkles the track with ephemeral synths here and there that really contribute to the sentimental mood of the original Post Malone track. The piano melody in the backdrop of the bassline stems from Sofia Karlberg’s cover of the song. Romanescu also includes some pitched down vocal chops to add to the rhythm, a staple for deep house songs. The track’s simplicity is what makes it pleasant to listen to. The artist doesn’t do much to change the vocals or the original melody of the cover song, which allows Sofia’s angelic vocals to shine through the track. If you liked this track, you should check out Romanescu Codrin's remix of a Vanotek track posted earlier this year.

Blackbear – 4U (Renzyx Remix) – Future Trap

Ahh, good ol’ reliable Trap City. I’ve been exploring a such a myriad of underground EDM channels, that I’ve forgotten about the mainstream ones. When I came across this track, I found it more unique than some of the other tracks I’ve been surfing through, in that it combines different instruments that would otherwise sound discordant if played in another context. Brazilian producer, Renzyx, manages to combine big brass sounds with pop-style guitar plucks to produce a relaxed but intense instrumental. The airy high-pitched vocal chops in the background add to the emotional quotient of the song. I really like the way Renzyx has structured the drop with it’s pauses, allowing the listener to hear the various instruments and samples used. The vocals by Blackbear are mainstream and don’t stray far from other songs with the same subject matter, but they complement the remix excellently with their dark, poppy style. Blackbear’s vocals here remind me of Tyler Joseph, the lead singer of 21 Pilots. The remix starts to trail off towards the end. In my opinion, the saxophone in the second drop could be avoided or pitched down. It’s a good thought, but I feel like something more mellow would fit the remix better. Overall, great job by Renzyx, I’ll be looking forward to hearing more remixes and music from this artist. Check out his Soundcloud for more. Happy Monday!

 

Lucky Luke & Dave Nazza – One Day (Future House)

Lithuania HQ is back with another Future House banger; a collaboration between German producer Lucky Luke and Lithuania-based producer Dave Nazza. The track consists of a bassline with a catchy chord progression. The vocals and build up aren’t the most impressive aspects of the track, but they do add a certain atmosphere to the song in addition to a structure that most EDM listeners are familiar with. The track could do without the vocals, and could have a more layered buildup with better effects. While I feel the producers have been lazy in this aspect, the main meat of the song redeems it from criticism. The producers add small background sounds to the main bass progression that make the track more interesting. They add vocal chops and string synths between transitions with variations of the main melody. When listening to the song a second time, you’ll be able to appreciate the subtle percussion in the second part of the drop, whether it’s the wooden taps, the high hats or the low pitched snares. EDM snobs would listen to a track like this and deem it basic or skeletal in nature, without considering the subtleties employed by the artists to create a rhythm. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating a simple track. Definitely check out some of Lucky Luke’s future house tracks such as “Boyfriend”, which he released earlier this year. I’m not familiar with Dave Nazza but I’ll be checking his Soundcloud in the next week for more groovy tracks. Follow Lithuania HQ for some quality deep house and future house tracks and playlists. Maybe use their live Pre Party Radio session for your Saturday night pregame?

 

Malaa – Paris 96 (Bass House)

This is one of the more interesting and unexpected tracks I’ve heard this week. Malaa is a French artist signed to Tchami’s label, Confession. He mainly produces bass house and garage house tracks, most of which sound dark and bassy and are in keeping with the bass house genre. This track surprised me because of Malaa’s interesting fusion of bass house and funk. The funk sample used in this track reminds me of “Get Down On It” by Kool & The Gang. I love the way he filters the bass at the beginning of the build-up, giving you that warm, funk vibe that you would find in a 90s funk track. He’s also chopped the guitar chords and has incorporated them in the drop along with a deep bass so as to maintain the bass house vibe. The music industry needs more innovation and fusion like this.  Since the passing of Chester Bennington, I’ve been thinking a lot about how Linkin Park revolutionized the music industry. They effectively combined nu-metal, rap, rock and electro and produced some remarkable music. Many artists these days do not stray from their chosen genre, or worse; they change the genre of their music to whatever’s popular at the time (I can’t tell you how many fucking generic future bass tracks I’ve had to dig through to find good music). Using different synths and rhythms help you become a more versatile artist while expanding your audience. For example: Let’s say there’s someone who like’s 90s funk and detests EDM in any shape or form. Then, his friend, Steve, shows him a track like this. He might still hate EDM, but he will appreciate the fusion in this song and might follow the artist on social media to find out about future releases. This is how you break barriers in the music industry as an artist. Keep doing what you’re doing Malaa. Shout out to Deep Obelisk for sharing this track!

Shaun Frank – No Future (feat. Dyson) – Future Bass

In a genre flooded with similar sounding synths and vocals, this future bass track stands out simply because the vocals complement the production so well and vice versa (also the live performance music video is dope). Shaun Frank is a Canada-based DJ who typically produces future house, and has only recently started entering the future bass/trap genre with songs like “let you get away”. In my opinion, he’s been successful in both genres. In the future house genre, he’s collaborated with Oliver Heldens for “Shades of Grey” as well as Borgeous for “This Could Be Love“. Both tracks were well received by the EDM community. Getting back to this track, the main verse of the song where Dyson sings “ain’t no future” is relatively generic when compared to other tracks in the same genre such as the future bass tracks The Chainsmokers have released. However, it’s the way the words work with the beat that makes this track so catchy. The vocal chops, the drum pattern and the bass notes created by Shaun Frank after the verse creates a  rhythm that makes this song “danceable”. The synth he uses for the drop sounds like a future house synth he’s used in other tracks; that same bassy sound laced with an flanger-like industrial effect. That deep bass acting as a backdrop against the high-pitched melody of the vocal chop is a similar sound we’ve heard in many EDM hits such as “Turn Down For What”, “Lean On”, etc. For some reason, this is a winning combination and seems to be a guaranteed success in EDM, despite how generic it has become. Anyways, hope you enjoy this track! Definitely check out Shaun Frank’s other tunes, as well as Lauren Dyson’s features as she’s done vocals for many other EDM songs. Happy Monday!

Rodriguez Jr. – Heal Me (Deep House)

The other day, one of my good friends tagged me in a DJ Mag rooftop mix set, featuring artist Rodriguez Jr, on Facebook. The lounge house/progressive house producer hails from Southern France. He grew up on the seaside in the 90s, attending electronic music parties while actively learning the piano. He is known to be a member of the French techno duo The Youngsters, who produced two albums under Laurent Garnier’s label F Communications. Yeah I know; I didn’t know Garnier had its own record label either, but that’s awesome. This track is part of Rodriguez Jr’s recently released album ‘Baobab’, which is essentially progressive electro with a deep house structure. The beat and rhythm of this track reminds me of Robin Schulz’s remix of Waves by Mr. Probz, a song that was in everyone’s beach playlist in 2013. This song initially has a beachy/sea-side vibe to it, whether it’s through the hint of tribal drums in the beat or the long, drawn out chords you hear throughout the piece. As the song develops, it becomes less tropical, and takes on an epic progressive nature. You can feel the chords becoming louder and more dispersed through the track, with more drum samples added to elevate the atmosphere. The chords begin to sound like those heard in songs by Deadmau5 or Eric Prydz, especially against the backdrop of the pluck melody you hear towards the end of the track. If you listen to the vocals, they are pitched down with a flanger or autotuned effect, which is juxtaposed with the original pitch of the female’s vocals. It is subtle textures like these which create a remarkable effect on the progressive atmosphere of this song. Layers are constantly added every measure or two, which allows for an outstanding build-up. The main reason I chose this track was that I found it uplifting and motivational, with the rhythmic potential of a lounge track. In my opinion, songs like this deserve a lot more attention that they receive. The only problem is that people hear these types of songs and consider them boring almost immediately, without giving themselves a chance to truly connect with the music, which is a pity. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the track. Check out Rodriguez Jr’s album ‘Baobab’. Another track I liked off the album was “Monticello”, so give that a listen as well.

Jax Jones – Instruction (ft. Demi Lovato, Stefflon Don) – Dance

Absolute fire from Jax Jones! For those of you who don’t know who Jax Jones is, he’s a UK artist from London who specializes in house and deep house tracks. Since I’ve spent the past semester studying abroad in London, I can testify to his popularity in that almost all commercial UK clubs play his releases. He’s not as popular in the United States as he is the UK, but with songs like this, where he collaborates with American artists such as Demi Lovato, he’s bound to top US charts at some point. Demi Lovato and UK hip hop artist Stefflon Don both complement the track with their fiery, standoffish vocals. The chorus is super catchy and creates a literal series of dance move “instructions” for any audience, which is why this song will top UK charts if not US charts. Getting around to the production, I’ve noticed that in his pop-style songs, Jax Jones uses a very soft yet powerful, compressed bass that complements the vocals nicely and creates a warm rhythm pleasurable to listen to. The track has a certain swing to it from the Caribbean-style beat intermixed with powerful EDM lead synths you can hear in the background. This brings me to an observation I’ve made over the past few months, which is that Caribbean-style beats are slowly dominating the music industry whether it’s through EDM or Hip Hop. If you guys heard Drake’s new album “More Life”, you’ll see a huge influence of Caribbean-style music and Dancehall in songs like “Madiba Riddim” and “Blem”. Other Hip Hop artists like French Montana and Ray Sremmurd followed in Drake’s footsteps with releases like “Unforgettable”. It’s only a matter of time before EDM adopts this new style of music; props to Jax Jones.

Bloody Boy – UFO (Bass House)

I feel like ‘Bloody Boy’ plunged into the darkest depths of the ocean to find the bass preset used in this drop. For those of you who don’t know, Bloody Boy is a UK artist from Manchester. There isn’t much information about him online, as with most artists whose tracks are released by Deep Obelisk. His sound doesn’t stray far from other artists in the Bass House genre, such as Jauz, Ephwurd, Brosik, Phlegmatic Dogs, Dustycloud, Brohug, Malaa, etc. I think my appreciation of catchy sidechained basslines played a definitive role in my choosing this song. Just listen to how the artist isolates the bass melody before the second drop. This isolation concept isn’t new. Future house artists like Tchami and Oliver Heldens do this all the time (just listen to the first drop of “Go Deep” by Tchami), but it’s the sidechained effect used by Bloody Boy that really adds to that filthy atmosphere you look for with songs like this. Maybe I’m over-analysing here, but one thing’s for sure: I won’t fucking rest till I find the bass preset used in this track. Keep it up Bloody Boy! If you liked this track, check out the youtube channel Deep Obelisk as well as the channel Moretin which releases awesome future/garage house bangers from Tchami’s label, Confessions.

Mawi – CO2 (Deep House)

I usually don’t follow Spinnin’ Records releases as much as other channels because they tend to be mainstream, whether they’re in the deep house or big room house genre. But I truly respect Spinnin’ for releasing this track by Mawi, and I’ll tell you why. I had never heard of Mawi before listening to this song, but I’m assuming he creates similar chill, progressive deep house tracks. This sounds like a track you would hear at a rooftop bar or in a DJ’s rooftop set (or even at a garden party as you can see in the music video). What I like about Spinnin’ releasing this track is that they don’t typically release progressive tracks like this. They normally release tracks with a defined build up and drop. This track has more of a progressive buildup where the main melody, consisting of a simple guitar chord construction with various synth overlays, can be heard throughout most of the song. The only difference between the build-up and the drop is that the drop has a bassy drum pattern that creates a rhythm for the track. As you can see, the music video has more dislikes that most Spinnin’ releases because it doesn’t exactly cater to Spinnin’s audience. This comment sums it up pretty well.

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The funny thing is that three or four years ago, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this track. This was back when I listened to big-room house artists like Bassjackers, Tujamo, Afrojack, W&W, Ummet Ozcan, etc. I would be more critical of songs that didn’t have huge drops. Since Big Room isn’t as popular now and all of these artists are hopping on the same Future Bass bandwagon, mainstream house music is less intense than it used to be. But that is a rant for another time. My point is, with regards to Mawi’s track, it’s received a lot of flack in the comments section because it’s progressive and doesn’t have a defined drop. For those close-minded Spinnin’ audiences who circle jerk to Tujamo and Timmy Trumpet releases (not saying they’re bad artists, I still like Hardstyle EDM), I implore you to open your mind to songs like this with simple chord progressions and structures. Appreciate Lounge House.

Portugal The Man – Feel it Still (Medasin Remix) – Chill Trap

Medasin is quite a versatile artist in the trap genre. Early in January of this year, Youtube channel Trap City released one of his tracks “Territory”, a loud dark trap banger featuring synths similar to those used by XVII, Baauer, etc. Since listening to that track, I hadn’t kept up with Medasin’s music, until I received a notification from Chill City of his remix of a Portugal The Man song “Feel It Still”. I was surprised to see him remixing a track by an American rock band from Alaska, but when I heard it, it gave me that warm feeling I get when I listen to songs from similar Youtube channels such as Majestic CasualSuicide Sheep, etc. The original track is fast paced and catchy (listen to it before you listen to this remix). I find that listening to original tracks before remixes allows you to appreciate the remix a lot more. Medasin has transformed a fast paced rock song into a mellow, ambient trap track you can definitely add to your 4/20 playlist. The crisp female vocals over the backdrop of subtle Flume-type trap synths provides for a relaxing tune you can listen to after a long day at work, as I’m doing right now. And the cool part of it is if you ever need to wake up from your relaxed state, just listen to the original rock song! But if your chill quotient hasn’t been fulfilled and you need another chill track to vibe to, check out “Daydream” by Medasin. If you’re not relaxed by then, you need to go on a vacation or something. I hear Spain is nice this time of year.