BLu ACiD – Money

That moment when handmade music makes you groove on the spot, then all of a sudden makes you feel like dancing. The not-so-new track of Mischa den Haring and Jan Mittendorp, better known as BLu ACiD, gets right into your bloodstream.

The two dutch musicians released an album called “HCN” recently which features many of their released singles from 2015 and 2016. Although one of the keyphrases I used for this review is “New tracks”, the track “Money” from BLu ACiD is in fact over a year old, but since I discovered it just today, I thought for all of you reading this the sound IS new.
Being a drummer in a krautrock band, I just have a thing for handmade music. Using electronic elements in tracks creates that signature sound which stucks to your head instantly, and that’s one of the things the guys of BLu ACiD do all day long. While “Money” as an example hasn’t that much electro elements in it, it still has that distinctive groovy style coming along with the sound. The electro elements in the other tracks on their album is just the icing on the cake, so to speak.
“Money” showcases that the two musicians are able to transmit a certain feel with their music. You just can hear that they are living what they are doing there. Groovy slightly distorted guitar tracks combined with deep bass lines and that unique vocals keep you caught in the music for those four and a half minutes. The track itself is mixed a bit too flat for my taste, but this could be a wanted effect, serving the retro feel of the track. There’s that “fattening” missing where other producers tend to double or triple tracks. Still, I’m not sure if keeping the track slim was intentional or not. Besides this, everything is placed where it should be. The voice isn’t too centered to give room for the guitar and backing vocal tracks. And most importantly: the feeling is real – you can’t mix that in.

Most of what BLu ACiD is giving me, I’m feeling it. Whether it makes you move, sing along or thinking “how the hell did they DO that?”, it works to keep you entertained, interested and listening. I strongly recommend listening to the whole album, musicians might learn a thing or two from den Haring and Mittendorp, and the avid listener will just groove along.

Fancy Cars – Heart of Stone ft. Foy

Being pushed by wide synth lines, and also being lured by soft and emotive vocals. It’s difficult to put the new track of Fancy Cars into any specific genre. So I won’t even try.

Haven’t heard such a great mixture of electro tunes and male vocals in a long time, folks. Packed in a rock solid mixing work, “Heart of Stone” offers a groovy setting where the vocal tracks are falling in place like missing puzzle pieces. The two skilled producers Alan Notkin and Brandon Paddock, better known as Fancy Cars, somehow found the missing ingredient to mix up danceable yet quite harsh synth lines with a slow and steady beat/percussion. The vocals are placed in a wide reverb setting sometimes which is a great trick to add depth and also feeling with it. The track keeps it’s groove throughout the whole time, because as soon as you’re used to the main theme, there’s always added something more, like a drop or those catchy vocal chops. Though these elements are for sure not a new thing in electro, what’s addictive about them is the blueprint by which all of those tracks are fitting in. I guess this was either accomplished by countless hours of work – or these guys woke up one morning, and BAM! there it was, the ready mix in their heads, right after they had breakfast.

Notkin and Paddock got themselves a vocalist named Foy, who did an awesome work to add some …soul to this track. Here’s a guy who loves what he is doing, and you just can hear that through the way he sings.
So, if you ask me, this trio did an outstanding track here. I found myself grooving to this track on repeat, and even the theme stuck to my head when I was driving home. That’s what I call mainstream material, guys.

Jen Gloeckner – Vine/Firefly (War Dance)

Bringing a unique mixture of chillout and driving synth electro, here’s a perfect track that will take you to unexpected places, letting you explore settings you never knew existed before. Sounds over the top and hard to believe? Welcome to the world of Jen Gloeckner.

Let me paint you a picture here: what starts like entering a forest on a warm, bright summer day all of a sudden gets mysterious, as if you would step onto some sacred ground within this forest. Gloeckner has the gift of creating deep atmospheres with those sub synths alongside high pitched melodies and sound effects. If you didn’t get lost in this atmosphere by now while just listening to the synth setting, you for sure will be when you hear the vocals of Gloeckner. She has that certain “haunted” element in her voice which leads to a change of the whole scenario. I love the crossing part where the song changes from haunted to driven like flicking a switch. This all goes along so naturally as if there never was another intention but to mix those different styles. By adding those distorted synth lines to the progressing track, I can almost feel the artist smile, like she was saying “didn’t see THAT coming, did you.”
Changing subjects and directions within a single track is an art form not many artists out there can master, but Gloeckner makes it seem so easy. If you don’t believe me, listen to the track with closed headphones and close your eyes for those six and a half minutes. You’ll know exactly what I meant.

“Vine/Firefly” is a crossfade track taken from the upcoming release of Gloeckners album called “VINE” where she offers tracks that emphasize on her unique genre mixture, always keeping her playful mixture of unexpected elements in the spotlight. I got to admit, I don’t really know when to listen to her tracks, since the used mood settings within those tracks are really hard to describe sometimes. I’ll go with the following statement: if you are an adventurer, her music is perfect for you.

Cry Boy Cry – My Heart Is So Heavy

Melancholic tunes for the perfect ending of a seemingly endless day. The new track “My Heart Is So Heavy” has got an uplifting feel while on the same time drags you down. Until now, I don’t know how they did that, but I think it’s awesome.

I guess it’s a combination of several elements. I’d put the new track of german based Cry Boy Cry, who worked together with vocalist Hannes Neunhöffer of the german indie band “A Tale Of Golden Keys” for this track, somewhere in the future pop genre. Lightweight, with a groovy laid back beat and a soft defensive synth base, this track has sort of a uplifting feel attached to it. Well… if only the topic wouldn’t be that melancholic. So, this makes you move your head while at the same time thinking about opening another bottle of wine while reflecting on your relationship issues. Funny thing is that “My Heart Is So Heavy” had my brain forming pictures in my head which are very similar to those in the music video – and that was even BEFORE I saw the music video that comes along with the song. The whole video was done with a very close attachment to the overall theme and great sense of detail. With those grainy effects applied on several shots (I like to call those “family vacation” effects, having a look at the video clip those of you having a life before everything was shot in HD will know why), there’s a huge amount of authenticity transmitted with the music and pictures. Peter Hoppe and Bernd Batke, the core members of Cry Boy Cry, took their musical ideas and feelings and then put a vocalist on top who is perfect for this tune. Neunhöffer adds emotion and fragility to all that, which left me stunned sometimes, wondering if it’s just his outstanding vocal range or if he willingly can add this perfect amount of defenselessness.

Being released with several remixes, this track will keep you interested for more than just three minutes. The concept of Cry Boy Cry is to work with different artists along the way, and this opens up a huge variety in the future releases of the group. I’m eager to hear what’s next.

Carmen Perez – Just What The Doctor Ordered

One way or another, you’ll agree with me: “Just What The Doctor Ordered”, one of the new tracks of singer/songwriter and actress Carmen Perez, is exactly what the title said it would be. And the best part: it’s prescription free.

Carmen Perez is a Jill of all trades. There’s not very much she hasn’t done already: being a former full time US military member, she’s now into acting, singing, modeling, painting… and I’m pretty sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Seeing her music videos and hearing this beautiful woman sing, it hit me right away: everything about her seems to be labeled with “DETERMINATION” in capital letters. She doesn’t hide anything – if she wants to do it, I guess there’s no stopping her from doing it. Confidence is one big part of the artist’s cake, and she brings a lot of it to the table.
“Just What The Doctor Ordered” is one of the tracks off her new EP “Space Girl” available on all major media sources. Backed by a low synth line, the stage is all hers to fire away those razor sharp bittersweet vocals. Those can change instantly from sassy to innocent. In other words: she can go from “sweet kitten mode” to “wtf mode” like flicking a switch. This versatility of Perez’ singing skills combined with a solid production crew (who did an outstanding job in putting all the tracks together, upgrading the songs of the EP with the right amount of doubled and pitched vocals and some defensive effects and some great synths (best ones by far: the one used in this track, and the slightly distorted ones, like the one in “He Killed Me (But I Didn’t Die)“.) is a guarantee to get many eyebrows raised out there. Giving the other tracks off her EP a listen, I noticed that she is not confined to one single genre. She is comfortable within mainstream pop, latin, reggae, even almost classical tunes… I guess she’s going by the rule “if it feels right, it IS right” – and I love that in an artist. It’s one of the main ingredients to develop your signature sound.

To sum it up: Perez has skills, a huge load of confidence and an awesome amount of creativity which is packed in every song she releases. This in addition with the momentum she’s gaining right now through all of her work is just an irresistible musical combination. She is producing mainstream medicine for the audience. Just what the doctor ordered.

Terra Nine – The Heart of the Matter

Be prepared to be taken on a little trip. Driven to an unknown goal, “The Heart of the Matter” of Mike Westcot, better known as “Terra Nine” invites you to do a bit of floating and exploring.

The producer from Auckland created an electronic chillout track with an outstanding amount of determination and drive here. The core of his track is a groovy beat which is backed by a thoughtful mix of percussion. On top of that there’s this almost psychedelic repeating synth line, and there you have it: the foundation of the whole track.
From there on Westcot starts to play with whatever he wants to. Arranged builds and breaks, vocal one-shots, a narrator voice track, reverbed and doubled analogue and digital instruments… maybe this whole scenario can best be compared with fireworks. There’s something new to find every other second. The melodies played are often scratching the surface of being oriental, but then again using a very unique signature sound. When listening to the other tracks of the EP “Heart of the Matter” released by Iboga Records a couple of days ago, it seems the arsenal of the producer from New Zealand is endless. You can almost feel the amount of creative joy Westcot must have had when experimenting with all those scenes, with all those instruments and effects. They say that once you feel the effect of music, the world is at your fingertips. In my opinion, this is exactly what happened with Westcot. Although there surely is a concept, he makes it seem so easy and playful as if there wasn’t a script behind all of his works.

So this is a perfect mixture of electronica, chillout and experimental, best enjoyed while using closed headphones. If you haven’t grooved today, the tracks of Terra Nine most definitely will get you there.

Kiara Nelson – Bulletproof

This track is a transmitter for a huge load of confidence. Thoughtful arranged, the new tune of beautiful Kiara Nelson makes you lift your head when feeling down.

Backed by defensive synths, all eyes (or better: ears) are on Nelson who gives “Bulletproof” the needed amount of confidence and drive with her voice. There are several great vocal one-shots used to emphasize on several parts. Since this is done carefully, it helps the song create that special exciting atmosphere. I love those transistions when the chorus hits; you are delivered what I like to call “wake-up-call effect”, it’s when everything sets in and the vocals are getting even stronger than they already are. Feels like changing the room, opening the door to another setting.
To name a negative aspect, there was one very stabby high eq synth melody used for a break melody, this particlar synth sounds very harsh and distorted. In my opinion this stabbing melody doesn’t really connect with the rest of the elements/tracks, but that’s just my personal feeling about it. Some would probably say it’s a nice counterpart for the soft yet confident voice of Nelson. That’s rather a matter of personal taste than a negative aspect, right.

The 18 year-old Finnish-Swedish-American (if that’s not an interesting heritage, then what is?) singer just started her career, but it clearly shows she’s serious about making a name for herself out there. The tracks she released by now are rock solid, and the vocals fit perfectly with the music. I wonder how Nelson would sound when singing cross-genre like piano-soul or something. For now she masters the art of electro pop like it was the easiest thing to do.

Łindal – Tonight We Dance

Trevor Innes aka Łindal pulled a big rabbit out of his hat this time: he was able to connect people, to bring them together and to share their love for music. That’s what music is all about, folks.

With an uplifting melody, a slow and steady beat and a somewhat steel drum sounding synth giving the track an almost carribean flair, Vancouver based Łindal made an easy-going, club/bar ready feelgood track that makes you nod your head while listening. The track isn’t overdone with too much effects, one-shots or anything, you’ll find just a great mixture of tension building elements and relaxing elements. The vocals are sung and mixed in soft, but front and center, so to speak.
But here’s what really fascinated me with “Tonight We Dance”: watching the video, I found out that in order to get the song out there, the crew did a project that I consider true art. They put up a set somewhere downtown Vancouver, and invited people to be part of their video by dancing to the tune. And by doing so, they got many random strangers to express their feelings about the music. Or at least have a fun time trying to do so. I’m sure it wasn’t that easy to talk some of these people into it, but the beauty of that project is that it didn’t matter where they came from, who they are, what they do for a living, what race, color, gender, age – they all were connected by a single track made by Innes. Plus his honesty and performance skills to attract and influence with his music and performing. In a time where everbody is constantly concerned about the world and it’s rising tensions, we need people like those guys delivering fun and good times instantly. And involving everybody, all differences aside.
Doing a project like this video is a PR trick as well, because now he instantly has gained a small fan base (anyone in the video of course wants to see the finished clip, right). And to reach a point where people are actually having fun expressing themselves (you can’t teach that, it’s just there. Don’t take my word for it, watch the clip.) is all you need to go big in the industry.

“Tonight We Dance” is a solid dance tune. The idea of the music video is equally as great as the track itself. And with Łindal just releasing another great track called “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head“, I’m not worried at all that the Canadian artist will be a huge impact in the scene throughout 2017.

Noréll – Damage Done

Today’s pick is a lightweight scandi-pop tune which makes you groove, smile and maybe even look at everything in a different way.

What attracted me the most with this track were those female vocals you won’t hear everyday. The danish trio Viktor Hagner, Marìe Louise Persson Bjarnarson and Nichlas Malling, better known as Noréll, took a pop based idea with a defensive and clean synth line and also clear bass synth layers, and they layered those awesome crisp, slightly high pitched vocals on top of it. This alone makes you lift your head or raise an eyebrow. See what just happened? You got curious. That’s creating signature sound 101, folks. Inventing something no one else comes up with is already half of the bargain to be successful out there. Also, the official video coming along with this track is dance oriented, and although this isn’t really my cup of tea, so to speak, it is sticking to my head since I saw it yesterday. See? That’s creativity at it’s best.
The mix of the track is solid. The vocals are placed front and center, and all additional effect layers and one-shots are not disturbing the flow or anything. The created room reverb (put on headphones, guys) is chosen with great sense of detail, one bit less, it would have come out flat, too much, and you got a too big cave effect. This track is something to make you move, although it’s more of a groove feeling than a dance feeling, at least for me. Base theme is happy, I almost was reminded of some japanese pop I heard recently, but without the hectic drive attached to it.

Overall, I found myself listening to this track on repeat, constantly moving my head from left to right. Noréll brings their signature sound to the table, and the lightweight track “Damage Done” is a multi-purpose track no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Take your time to check out their other works on Soundcloud or Spotify as well, it’s really worth it. Attention, competition out there: those guys are a force to be reckoned with in the pop genre.

Shy Luv – Joyrider

This felt light and soft on my mind. With drive and flavour, the new track “Joyrider” from Sam Knowles and Jake Norman, also known as “Shy Luv”, lights up your day.

With an intelligent bassline and a beat that feels like leisure jogging at the beach, the new electro track of the Manchester-based duo takes the groove right to your brain. There’s something to this track that makes me want to order cocktails while I’m slightly grooving. The vocals are sung and mixed mid-to upper eq band, which adds up perfectly to the beat, the added female one-shots and the percussion. But, the secret ingredient to this track in my opinion is the bass which is created with a perfect mixture of disco bass and up-to-date electro pop bass. Whenever you think the main synth is too linear, the bass comes to save the day.
Another highlight are the vocals, lightweight and flanked by several vocal effect layers. They’re going great with those female vocal one-shots and the shimmering synth tracks. This track is a no-brainer for dancefloors, if you ask me. I guess you have to be deaf if you’re not starting to move to “Joyrider”.

Knowles and Norman have been working on their new EP “Shock Horror” which will be released in 2017. If the other tracks are similar to this one, I can imagine the sales numbers going straight up from the start. These guys certainly found their way to create a unique dance sound.