Jordan Xidas Drops EDM-laced “Crush”

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A breakaway from the the Southern city’s twangy country music majority, Nashville’s own Jordan Xidas not only offers a pop alternative, but operates with smooth, clean vocals that sound unusually sleek when paired with electronic-dance production. With the release of “Break My Heart” in 2015, the 19-year-old Belmont U. student has gained attention on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Spotify.

His new song sounds just like a new crush feels: dizzy, light,and shyly addictive. It’s got the anthemic appeal of a DJ Snake dance cut; bouncy snares and distant synths, with a pop-y hook that doesn’t let go; (“I think I got a crush on you, I think I think too much, I do/ Can’t keep it on the hush, try to…”).

Buy “Crush” on iTunes here; listen on SoundCloud below.

Charlie Puth just put out the coldest blowoff track of 2017…

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Up until now, Charlie Puth has typically been tagged a ballad boy. With lovey tracks like the Selena Gomez-collaboration “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, sleek “Marvin Gaye”, and “One Call Away”, the 25-year-old’s discography has kept strong ties to innocent, undying adolescent mush. So when the singer dropped “Attention” on iTunes last week, a seething and side-eyed tribute to an insecure ex…(Bella Thorne, are you out there?), our jaws dropped. Originally generated as a homemade, beatboxed voice note on Charlie’s phone while on tour in Tokyo, the bass line for “Attention” is the heart and soul of the track—the relentless source of funk that fuels Puth’s distaste—and our absolute ear-addiction. The visuals are just as cool; Charlie circles clubby LA scenes while an unnamed, chic-but-crazy blonde ex follows his every move. And with nothing but a face-palm and pity, he responds with the track’s apathetic hook: [“You just want attention, you don’t want my heart, maybe you just hate the thought of me with someone new/ you just want attention, I knew from the start, you’re just making sure I’m never gettin’ over you…”].

They really do always come back.

Download on iTunes here; check out the vid below.

Review: Drake-‘Views’

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The wait for Views was really, really painful. Tardiness aside, let’s start with the skyrocketed hope for an album that instead plummeted with a false alarm: the passable-but-might-be-pile-of-throwaways otherwise known as If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. A cruel travesty at the least. Yes, “Know Yourself” might have singlehandedly sparked the Summer ’15 W.O.E. movement and repeated PARTYNEXTDOOR features provided the ultimate shoulder for your feels, but let’s be real. IYRTITL was an untimely tease, totally random, and not Views.

And then there was the dry spell that ran from the rest of Winter to that following Fall ’15. Well, minus “Hotline Bling”, of course. Any dose of Drizzy—whether accompanied by the raspy-voiced king of unconcern, Future (see: WATTBA; it’ll change your life/how efficiently you’ll clean your house) or a dancehall collab with Rihanna–we swigged like parched fangirls. When closely examined, the preoccuDRAKEtion really is frightening.

And in the midst of all that waiting, tension, and growing distaste for the OVO singer’s flexible take on deadlines, we remained obsessed. Eating up every Insta post, collaboration, basketball game appearance, and meme, our lurking means love; there’s a generational affinity for the man.

And Drake knows it. It’s why he reveled in our wait, and continues to bask in our love. And feels absolutely comfy in a grandiose, James Bond ambience that couldn’t more appropriately roll out the intro to Views. “You sit and you pray hoping that the stars align/ My luck is a sure thing cause I’m living right”, the 29-year old sings, over espionage fanfare, drumroll, and an invisible throne. It’s the right homage to an 8+ year run.

Emotion runs rampant on Views, with enough moments of absolute goosebumps to sink you into the feels for longer than seems comfortable (“Fire and Desire”, “U With Me?”) and side-eyed shade (“Redemption”). Throw in the cocky brushoff track (“Grammys”), add Future, and you get a Drake who [momentarily] casts his feelings to the wind. And there’s enough of that residual, thorny bitterness for the ones who missed out—like the slickly produced “Weston Road Flows”: (“Used to have secret handshakes to confirm my friendships/ Nowadays they’re just shakin’ my hand to hide the tension…”), blended beautifully with a circa ’94 Mary J. sample.

Views is a lot like Drake’s Instagram: a quirky collage of too much greatness to contain. A compilation of dabbling in things that look fun; dancehall and the Caribbean aesthetic, to name a few. In these moments, he and his guest stars shine. Collaborations–at any given time–just feel right, from Rihanna’s assist on the jungle-drummed out “Too Good”, to a PND-Jeremih falsetto combo on “With You” that steals R&B lovers’ hearts and doesn’t let go.

The thing is, most ventures are natural for Drake, whether it’s joining Jamaican dancehall vet Popcaan on possibly the brightest, bounciest cut on the album, “Controlla”, or rapping over a full-church chorus on the title track. Acting, singing, laying down the bars, or reinstating his softness on “Faithful” while a drowned-out Pimp C sample circles chipmunked choir vocals…nothing’s un-pull-offable. And somehow, he always gives the proper thanks: (“I gotta talk to God even though he isn’t near me/ Based on what I got it’s hard to think he don’t hear me…”), never totally losing his head. He’s well beyond the victory lap, and knows it. And we’ll continue to devour whatever he gives us.

Buy it on iTunes here.

‘ANOTHA ONE’…(of Drake’s Tracks Sprung a Leak)

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The fourth track in a slew of accidentally-released predecessors, [Drizzy’s hand at a Jackson Browne voiceover (“These Days“) and a tropical, Popcaan masterpiece collab (“Controlla“) to name a few] this week’s two, pre-Views leaks are sponsored by OVO labelmate and fellow gloom’n’b-er PARTYNEXTDOOR (“Tell Me”), as well as a posthumous Pimp C donation (“Faithful”).

“Tell Me” is crafted for the 2 AM listening session that ends in spilled teardrops on the steering wheel and an absolutely Drakey kind of self-absorption. Running at 3:45, the synthed-out track drowns in 808s and duets PND echoes with soft crooning from the king himself. Cop it here.

Faithful” intros with haunting bars from the late Pimp C, the essence of the song Drake’s soft appeal for commitment: (“‘Fore you say you need somebody, get all your affairs in order/ I won’t have affairs, I’m yours, girl…”). It’s unashamedly moody, an almost smirking, ‘get-me-while-you-can’ wield of Marvins Room-esque emotion that’s likely been the 29-year-old’s most potent weapon for the last eight years.

Listen to these tracks fast, for any precious Drake streaming links left are evaporating faster than whatever support Donald Trump ever had. Although Views From the 6 has not yet been given a due date, the EP is expected sometime this month. (Hold on tight.)

https://soundcloud.com/daysafterx/partynextdoor-tell-me

Majid Jordan Drops “Day and Night”, Confirms 2/5 Album Date

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The OVO-labeled dance-pop duo just dropped yet another gem from their upcoming, self-titled project–expected February 5th next week.

Clinging to their trend of slick, loungey ambience, “Day and Night” is a drum ‘n’ synth-driven cut, mashed with fluttery keyboards that provide the completion–not competition–to Majid Al Maskati’s cooing vocals and cerebral hook: (“But here, as we speak, I feel madness subside/ You know how to ease my mind…”). The track lies in the wondrous realm of late night highway drives and heavy contemplation–like most of the Toronto twosome’s discog.

Listen + buy “Day and Night” on iTunes here. Meanwhile, here’s the video for their similarly timed release, “Something About You”–another single off the upcoming EP, Majid Jordan.

Review: Justin Bieber-‘Purpose’

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Bieber. The ‘love-to-hate/hate-to-love’ poster child of tatted rebellion and shaggy blonde angst, and likely, the worst-case model for premature fame-exposure. Flash-forward a year and a half from the mop-bucket antics, suburban speed racing, and general face-palming idiocy, and here we have his apology; a belated, side-eyed, hit record one…but a subtle peace offering at that. Its sufficiency is yours to weigh…though as evident through its feverish love for any Biebs material, the radio’s already confirmed it for you.

On Purpose, Bieber doesn’t fire shots during the lengthy 18-track presentation, but he does lick his wounds a lot…[mostly the paparazzi-inflicted ones]: (“Cause life’s not easy, I’m not made of steel/ Don’t forget that I’m human, don’t forget that I’m real…”). These confessions, though blame-shifting in nature, are the backbone of “Sorry” and “I’ll Show You”, a downtempo, Skrillex-assisted EDM cut that lays the groundwork for Justin’s dismissal of any deemed Superman status.

Purpose is light, in content and production. But so is most EDM-classified material. And after two years of drama, would we really want something ‘heavy’ from the singer? Bieber seems to circle volatile girls like a small dog, evident on the bouncy, radio-perfect but recurrent “What Do You Mean”….(“When you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no/ When you don’t want me to move, but you tell me to go…”). Fluffy puppy love isn’t a problem, but when it serves as the thematic for half the album’s tracks, there might be one. (See: “Company”, “Get Used To It”, “Where R U Now”). It’s still on my AM commute playlist, though.

Purpose‘s boredom might also be related to Bieber’s instrumental backing. At the time of Journals‘ release about a year ago, Justin was dabbling in trouble, and more positively, R&B. His voice melted with the genre, producing track-after-track gems, like the slick “Heartbreaker” and woozy, bass-sunken “All That Matters”. It sounded natural immediately; with the singer’s propensity for blue-eyed soul, riffs, and runs, it was a match made in heaven. Sleek and effortless. So considering pop radio’s MO, it’s no surprise that just a few songs landed regular rotation. It seems, now, that either compulsion by a more basic-eared fanbase or over-mingling with clubby, techno producers who spin the same beat for hours, but receive unending crowd acclaim from neon-clothed frat boys, Bieber’s switched up the beats. Whatever the reason, the new sound–call it dubstep or call it dullness–is limiting Bieber’s vocal outreach.

There are the handful of keepers, specifically the ex-scathing “Love Yourself”, during which Bieber vents loosely, rejects late-night apologetic texts from a girl, and even lumps in his mother’s distate for her, prior to the denouncing hook: (“Cause if you like the way you look that much, oh baby you, should go and love yourself”). Ed Sheeran co-wrote it and jumps on background vocals for a little added disgust. Then there’s “No Sense”, an ambient-trap interlude that hosts Travis Scott, who continues to ride his post-Rodeo wave in an unusually romantic setting; (“Been around a million stars, none of them shine brighter than you…”).

Purpose is perfect for radio play, ideal for workout accompaniment, and more than appropriate for car karaoke. But with pipes rarely found in pop music’s Autotune roster, Justin leaves us wanting a little more him and a little less Skrillex, Diplo, and computerized synths. After all, it’s never a vocal or talent issue that bars Bieber from sounding the best; but rather, as it seems in life, the crowd with which he surrounds himself.

Buy/Download on iTunes here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/purpose-deluxe/id1049605561

Review: Neon Indian-‘VEGA INTL. Night School’

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Sweaty, deep-house digressions, blurry disco lights, and a lo-fi, synthpop kind of tipsy: it’s the sensory overload that Alan Palomo and the rest of Neon Indian chains to you. Though in somewhat subtle of means and small of doses, they’ve actually been administering this since 2009.

VEGA INTL. Night School arrives two years after the band’s last studio album, and soon after hit single “Annie”s rule over Spring 2015: a “La Isla Bonita”-fied electro pop cut, smothered with tropical vibes, fidgety keyboards, and lead singer Palomo’s falsetto rapture. It’s VEGA INTL.’s second-track transport to the islands, right between the album’s hypnotic, 1:00 overture, “Hit Parade”, and “Street Level”s cut-and-paste, dubsteppy clutter.

See, VEGA INTL. flows much like an raveish, underground dancefloor marathon, operating melodically with as much cohesion as confusion. [A paradox not typically pulled off by most in EDM]. Sometimes, wild and brash 808s circle vintage, 80s-cassette beats; other times, it’s all clattering synths and keyboards on parade. It’s a kaleidoscopic, 14-track-deep daze—but uniquely, not a doze.

There’s some sonic organization, then a little lack of it; both approaches generate in-ear addiction. The recipe for “Smut!” and “Bozo” is mismatched geometrics, lo-fi embellishments, and far-off, distant vocals, while fluid, ultra-smooth tracks like “Glitzy Hive” and “61 Cygni Ave” join any loose rhythmic ends.

For all of his blithe, unconcerned disco slavery, Paloma’s moments of clarity are as lucid as strobe-lit love interest can be, and as blunt….[“I don’t know what you see in those creeps, You know you never leave the glitzy hive”]. And unblushingly lovey…[“Never coming home again, till they see the world as I see you.”] In all forms of delivery, via woozy murmurs or amped-up confessions, VEGA INTL.’s range of emotions feels genuine.

Listen below & buy it here.

Review: Disclosure-‘Caracal’

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It’s a thin ice business, skating the layer of EDM between fluffy, radiopropriate Dance music surface and the offbeat, sometimes tedious House-trenches that lie just below. It’s easy to crack through the layer and surrender to an icy swallow of mind-numbing repetition, ‘vanilla’ synthetic instrumentals, and general aimlessness under the guise of edgy minimalism. DJs and producers do it all the time.

But for years, Howard and Guy Lawrence have fisted these hard and far into the realm of lazy production and lost melodic causes. Their second studio album is entitled Caracal and features—fittingly—a fierce feline face on its grayscale cover. And while the liberal, 15-track project seems to host a million guest stars, this might be precisely what they’re doing right. The Lawrences can sing, of course, but they don’t like to get sick of hearing themselves.

Five years, fifteen singles, and two studio albums later, one can affirm that Disclosure’s supreme quality comes largely from sounding like no other artist on the scene. Sown from the same dancefloor shakeability of Settle‘s “White Noise” and “Latch”, Caracal‘s “Omen” and “Hourglass” are electrifying because they’re sonically fresh. No track is identical, no drum sequence is the same. There are lyrics put to the melodies, but they don’t cloud our concentration on all the mixboard finesse. EDM for the EDM cynic, Disclosure seems to make a masterpiece of everything diluted from contemporary electronic music.

And one of their finest methods of attack is pulling up gems from the vast, indie-underground. Like Settle, Disclosure’s collaborations are nothing but strategic. The result: a richly diverse compilation that feels much more multi-genre than it really is. On Caracal, there’s the feisty-piped Nao, a fellow Brit and R&B artist who provides the velvety assist on “Superego”, and the Ghania-born powerhouse Kwabs, who takes us straight to church while delivering a desperately soulful, ‘ride-or-die’ proposal on “Willing and Able”, the album’s most goosebumpy, chest-belting dancefloor-ballad.

And then there’s the rest; an all-star stitching of R&B’s best balladeers and pop’s leading acts: Miguel, The Weeknd, Lorde, and Sam Smith. The Lawrence bros snag fellow victory-lapper, Abel Tesfaye, for “Nocturnal”, Caracal‘s mystically orphic overture. The Weeknd brings some of his misery (“Try to tell myself there’s freedom in the loneliness”) and the brothers meld it with deep-house snares, keyboards, and slick, twilight ambience.

Caracal is undoubtedly Settle‘s dark successor: a wide-eyed, sleeker sophomore album from a slightly more mature, pensive Disclosure—a duo who’s nailed a singular kind of dancefloor electricity,–realized it–, and won’t let it go.

Buy the album on iTunes here, and listen to “Hourglass (Feat. LION BABE)” off the EP below:

Gem of the Week: “Smiling Faces Sometimes”-The Undisputed Truth

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Song: “Smiling Faces Sometimes”

Artist: The Undisputed Truth

Album: The Undisputed Truth (1971)

Long before mixtapes were a thing, Motown record producer Norman Whitfield was DJ’ing his own trip-funk soundtrack; getting his name out via his own collective of hippie soul singers on a succinct portfolio of R&B jams, entitled The Undisputed Truth.

It was the handcrafted group’s breakout release: an 11-track-deep LP that could craftily lure the orthodox Smokey Robinson radio fan down a rabbit hole of deep-soul psychedelia, chittering snares, and purring bass riffs.

Like Isaac Hayes’ Shaft, Roy Ayers’ Coffey and Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly, Whitfield’s 1971 Undisputed compilation follows suit in the early ’70s trend of snappy, ultra-cool grooves composed by the low-profile recording artist.

Amid two funkified covers (“Like a Rolling Stone”, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”), deep-groove syncopated cuts (“California Soul”, “That’s What The World is Today”), and enough slow jam interludes (“We’ve Got A Way Out of Love”), side 2 houses the smoothest track, [and Top-40 hit], “Smiling Faces Sometimes”.

A snooty strings-and-bass overture, some bongos, and a couple side-eyed “Can You Dig It?”s ease you into the jazzy track’s deep-seated voodoo. Contrary to the standard scowl, lead singer Joe Harris warns of the opposite facial expression: (“Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend; Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within…”). With each of his smoky-toned belts, the rhythm guitar flickers and the bass goes wild.

Enjoy below.

Teyana Taylor Drops “Your Wish”; ‘The Cassette Tape 1994’

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A fan-dedicated, ‘thank-you’ supplementary to her VII studio album [per Def Jam] from last year, The Cassette Tape ’94 is Teyana Taylor’s newest G.O.O.D. Music-sponsored cut, arriving at a low-key juncture in the Harlem R&B singer’s career. It’s poppier than usual; less of the sultry, smoky mystique that enveloped her last, much darker project–and more bright and funky ‘Oooh…On the TLC Tip’ type material. Released [ironically] a day before the anniversary of Aaliyah’s death, it’s no surprise that the five-track mixtape seethes with everything that made the R&B princess irresistible. [Highlights include “Tonight”, “Undercover”].

“Your Wish” is the five-track mixtape’s intro; the epitome of swirling, dance-dazed ’90s R&B. There’s a little Jade to be found, a little Total, and even a kind of SWV-ish ecstasy to the ‘Ye/Domo-produced cut. It sways with dancefloor smoothness, paying a melodic “Back & Forth” homage to the Princess, herself while staying true to Taylor’s own pipes.

Check out the SoundCloud link here: