VenessaMichaels talks #2090, Dream Collabs, and Rug Rats [TMN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

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Just a few weeks back, when the calendar still showed 2015, we had the ultimate pleasure of catching VenessaMichaels‘ live set at Vinyl Nightclub. After her playful, inventive, and oft-bass heavy showcase, we sat down with her in the green room to talk about everything from how she became a musician, to some of her dream collaborations.

TMN: Hey Venessa! Thank you so much for sitting down with us tonight, and for being our last Resident Artist for 2015. Also, welcome to the Mile High City! Is this your first time playing here?

VM: Thanks! It’s my first time in Denver, in general, and I’ve heard a lot of great things. I love it here! Good people.

TMN: We just premiered your latest remix, which is an amazing interpretation of “Are You That Somebody. How did you land on that song as your next project?

Are You That Somebody
VM: Well, I’m a 90’s kid at heart, and it’s definitely inspired my music in general. Honestly? It’s a classic, just like “Say My Name.” I don’t think you can know anything about the 90’s without knowing about Aaliyah and Timbaland and “Are That You Somebody?” It’s just the truth.

TMN: For our readers who don’t know what you’re #2090 style means, can you fill them in a little bit?

VM: #2090 is basically my interpretation of this future 90’s style. I’ve taken a lot of influence by nature. I’ve genuinely become influenced by the 90’s just by growing up with that kind of music. The remixes are a good example of what #2090 is, but my originals and the artists I’m working with were written with a 90’s style topline, but with a new sound underlying it.

TMN: Even looking past your two latest 90’s remixes, we can hear that style carried throughout your other tracks as well, including “Whatcha On.” We heard that everything just kind of fell into place with that track, which is incredible because the production and vocals seemed like they were made for each other, stylistically. Care to elaborate on how that all went down?

Whatcha On ft. Tay Jasper

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[15 to End 2015] Ninja Baseer’s Best of the Year

15 To End 15 - Baseer

When evaluating lists like this, it’s always important to remember the subjectivity in music. The songs here are not just what I would say are the “best” of 2015 or even necessarily my favorites, but the ones I had the most attachment to for one reason or another. Music is the closest thing we have to time travel in that it can evoke emotions unlike any other and effortlessly bring us back to moments long forgotten. This compilations of songs serves almost as a walk through memory lane, and choosing just 15 tracks to represent my 2015 proved to be a daunting task. Alas, I was able to finally narrow down my choices, so I hope you all enjoy my picks even if you don’t fully agree with them (which let’s be honest, you won’t). Finally, if you are curious about what didn’t make the cut, I’m going to shamelessly plug this massive Spotify playlist I compiled that includes pretty much all of my favorites from 2015.

Kendrick Lamar
These Walls ft. Bilal, Anna Wise, Thundercat
There’s no question that To Pimp A Butterfly is a classic album, so choosing just one standout single was definitely a challenge, but “These Walls” proves to be equally thought provoking as it is groovy.

Thundercat
Them Changes
Speaking of “Them Changes”, Thundercat played an integral part in 2015’s funk revival, with Flying Lotus laying the groundwork for this tune with the Isley Brothers-sampling instrumental.

Toro Y Moi
Buffalo
“Buffalo” is just about as fun as it gets when Mr. Chaz Bundick is shredding on the guitar.

The Internet
Girl ft. KAYTRANADA

As far as love songs go, we couldn’t ask for more from this hypnotic collaboration between The Internet and Kaytranada.

Alina Baraz & Galimatias
Can I
Alina’s mellifluous voice and incisive lyrics combined with Galimatias’s melodic production will captivate your attention from start to finish.

SG Lewis
No Less Ft Louis Mattrs
Featuring two of the most remarkable talents I discovered in 2015, “No Less” makes for one of the smoothest listens of the year, accomplished through a superb blend of dulcet vocals and acoustic guitar work.

Drake
Hotline Bling
The most meme-worthy tune of the year is also easily one of the most infectious. Shout outs to D.R.A.M.

Jamie XX, Young Thug & Popcaan
I Know (Good Times)
The ultimate party anthem of 2015, “Good Times” are undoubtably to be had whenever this genre defying jam comes on.

Snakehips x Tory Lanez
Dímelo
One of the more unconventional pairings of the year, Snakehips and Tory Lanez found an incredibly creative middle ground between their drastically different sounds.

Mura Masa
Firefly (ft. Nao)
Two of our favorite up-and-comers from the UK, Mura Masa and Nao team up to create one of the catchiest songs we’ve heard in a long time.

Disclosure
Superego (ft. Nao)
It’s no mistake that Nao appears twice on this list, as the British songstress lends her vocal talents to yet another addicting tune.

Skrillex And Diplo
To Ü (Feat. AlunaGeorge)
Sorry JB, but Aluna Francis wins the award for the best Skrillex and Diplo collaboration of the year.

Gallant
Weight In Gold (Louis Futon Remix)
Pro Tip: Gallant’s “Weight In Gold” might have been the most heavily remixed track of the year, but I’ve found no version is more apt for shower acoustics than the Louis Futon remix.

Beach House
PPP

Beach House have a gift for crafting music that’s perfect for those times when you need to just close your eyes and drift away deep into your mind’s abyss.

Tame Impala
Let It Happen
Just as the title implies, it’s best to submerge yourself in the Currents of this psychedelic tune and let them carry you away on a new journey.

Shlohmo
BURIED
Shlohmo’s Dark Red serves as the soundtrack for the most epic space voyage you could ever imagine. Lock yourself in a dark room and let the music take hold.

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[15 To End 2015] Ninja Ash’s Best of the Year

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When you listen to music as much as I do, your song selections and life experiences become inseparable–each impacting the other in both conscious and subconscious ways. That relationship embodies the uniquely subjective nature of music. You can listen to a song ten times and think nothing of it but then hear it in the right context or headspace and everything just clicks. As such, any effort of making an objective “best of” list proves a fruitless task. So rather than attempt that Sisyphean task, my ’15 To End 2015′ captures the songs that meant the most to me this year: ones that soundtracked my best memories, comforted me at my lowest points or simply possessed endless replay value. Peep my favorites of 2015 below. Hopefully they’ll take on a life of their own in your music collection.

Beach House
Space Song

A trip to psychedelic space land–just close your eyes and absorb.

The Internet
Under Control

A fresh and endlessly relatable take on R&B from Syd & co.

Thundercat
Them Changes

Built on the same Isley Brothers drum sample as “Today Was a Good Day,” this funk-injected jam crescendos a year full of nostalgia for the era of Parliament, James Brown & Sly Stone.

Main Attrakionz
Aint No Other Way

Feel good Bay Area hip-hop for and from the soul.

Raury
Forbidden Knowledge (feat. Big K.R.I.T.)

An absolute lyrical gem from a young artist with wisdom well beyond his years.

Kendrick Lamar
These Walls (feat. Thundercat, Bilal & Anna Wise)

My most played song from my favorite album of the year: ‘To Pimp A Butterfly.’

Jamie xx
I Know Theres Gonna Be (Good Times)(feat. Young Thug & Popcaan)
It’s hard to pick a favorite song from Jamie xx’s ‘In Colour’ but this summer anthem flipped pretentious listeners on their heads while showcasing the merits of melodic emcees.

Shamir
In For The Kill

The danciest track from the year’s most pioneering pop vocalist.

Mura Masa
Lovesick Fuck

In 2015 Mura Masa continued to prove his dominance in the realm of emotional future bass. This is easily my most played track of the year.

Big Wild
Aftergold

‘Aftergold’ captures Big Wild’s genuinely organic approach to electronic music–one full of sonic plot twists and playful melodies.

Lane 8
Loving You ft. Lulu James

Lane 8’s compositions shaped my year and “Loving You,” the opener of his debut album, brings to mind feelings of excitement and new beginnings.

Kenton Slash Demon
Harpe

The capacity for emotional power within an instrumental composition should never be underestimated–‘Harpe’ proves that.

Tame Impala
Let It Happen (Soulwax Remix)

The magnificence of Tame Impala and the rare emergence of Soulwax combine for infinite grooves.

Billy Kenny
I Eat Beats (Ardalan Remix)

This song is single-handedly responsible for piquing my interest in tech-house.

Sonny Fodera & Gene Farris
We Work It

I listened to this every time I worked it in 2015.

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[15 to End 2015] Ninja Dom’s Best of the Year

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As a sweeping generalization, 2015 will go down as a year dominated by collectives. Future Classic, Hegemon, Moving Castle, Soulection, HW&W, Wedidit, Monstercat, and French Express pooled their talents together to commandeer the music scene this year. The technical aspects commonly associated with “Future” crept into the DNA of producers, becoming a topical theme across genres from the most obscure to the most mainstream.

In particular, and as one of the most recent additions to the TMN staff, it has been quite a journey both as a contributor and music fan since early April. Without the collaboration of the entire staff – the guidance of editors and advice of my fellow writers – year one as a ninja would not have been possible. Along the way I’ve covered tours, shot music festivals, and met some of my favorite artists, who have graciously exposed me to their own intricate webs of sound. That being said, below is my best effort to reduce thousands of great tracks released this calendar year down to a manageable number. Enjoy the tracks below, in order of release date, and see you all next year!

Oceaán
Veritas (Young & Sick’s Mixed Feelings)
Although it has nearly been removed from all channels of the internet, this remix of Veritas is a fluid tune, incorporating contrasting techniques in a way that set it apart this year.

OBESØN 
Mon Amour
This is both my favorite song ever and the answer to the hypothetical question “if you could only listen to one song for the rest of time…”

San Holo
We Rise
Deserving of a spot on all lists, this has been the de facto party-starter and pregame anthem since it’s release in February.

Alison Wonderland
Run
The title track from AW’s debut album taps into the talents of fellow producers Djemba Djemba and AWE in creating this hooky, electronic masterpiece.

Mura Masa
When U Need Me
For an artist focused on quality over quantity, this is Mura Masa’s greatest creation to date.

DIVERSA
Burning House
Burning House is the most powerful release of Diversa’s, serving as a benchmark for the current wave of Drum & Bass producers to measure up against.

Jamie xx
The Rest is Noise
Jamie XX has been graced with near unanimous approval of his album In Colour; The Rest is Noise incorporates his most polished elements in a lengthy rainbow-colored instrumental.

Tory Lanez
Acting Like (Prod. by Shlohmo)
Another up and coming artist out of the blooming Toronto hip-hop scene, Tory Lanez, enlists the help of Shlohmo in putting together this dark, rhythmic jam.

Golden Vessel
Borrowed Time (ft. Tiana Khasi)
Melbourne locals Golden Vessel and Tiana Khasi teamed up to create one of the most enchanting and soulful pieces of the year, bar none.

Thundercat
Them Changes
As the most groovy track of the summer season, this was also an introduction and revival of the nostalgia-pumping funk genre, which used to dominate the charts.

Tame Impala
The Moment
Parker shows off his adaptability on this one; in cutting the downtrodden lyrical content against a synth-driven bridge full of cheery guitar riffs and rhythmic hand claps, the single is inextricably linked with the bridge in fellow Australian band Pond’s recent release, “Medicine Hat”.

Moi Je
Fais Rien (PETIT BISCUIT Remix)
Although the title literally means ‘do nothing’, it is nearly impossible to hear this remix by Petit Biscuit and not be tempted to move by the upbeat tempo.

Khai
Do You Go Up
This bubbly, minimalist tune is carried on the strength of its hook and the catchy vocals of its creator.

SevnthWonder
Maria Im Drunk (Ft. Deverano) (Travis Scott Cover)
As the most notable track by the best up and comer out of 2015, this remix displays a vision and creativity beyond SevnthWonder’s years.

Finding Hope
Wonder
With roots in the ambient genre, down-tempo is the most calming style of music. The deep, pleasant reverie continues through Wonder and does not end until the close of the song.

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[15 To End 15] Ninja Matthew’s Best of the Year

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2015 was quite the year in the world of music. While much of this writer’s work comes within some corner of dance music, many of my favorites this year fell somewhere between the worlds of electronic-pop and every different iteration of indie one could come up with. We finally got those largely anticipated LP’s from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Beach House, Tame Impala, Disclosure, Grimes & more (heck even New Order made a resurgence), but we were knocked off balance by more than a few surprises as well. While many critics and blogs were busy championing those aforementioned artists & albums; tunes from Lower Dens, Calvin Love, Thundercat, Youth Lagoon, Kurt Vile, Motorama, Mas Ysa, GEMS, Autre Ne Veut, and loads more quietly stirred their fair share of competition into the pot. While whittling down to just 15 songs (plus even more ‘Honorable Mentions’ at the bottom) was perhaps one of the more painstaking things you could put a (semi) serious music journalist through, it was an enriching undertaking and hopefully I managed to dig up a few tunes you may have missed in 2015 to your end-of-the-year lists. Enjoy, and let’s hope 2016 offers just as many amazing highs.

15.) Gilligan Moss – “Stasis”

One of the more exciting producers to grab our attention in 2015, Brooklyn via Chicago producer & sound artist Gilligan Moss released one of the most neglectfully under-reviewed entries into this year’s list of album contenders, the excellent, genre-skirting EP Ceremonial. It was tough to choose just one single, but we arrived on the EP’s closing tune:”Stasis”. Hopping out of the gates with a rolling arpeggiated synth, clicky percussion and a light dose of grand piano, “Stasis” chases down a synth-pop prognosis and smashes it to bits with hints of a sensible psych influence and club-first house foundation. Gilligan Moss treats the tune’s vocal just as craftily as his instrumentation, cutting and looping effortlessly through hazy and delicate incantations that sound somewhere between Sean Ryder’s most indulgent bellows and the Macintosh computer SimpleText application used on OK Computer’s “Fitter Happier”.  Just beautiful stuff to our Ninja ears really. For a real taste of Moss’ range, don’t skip on the rest of Moss’ Ceremonial either, to get a much clearer grasp on why he’s been targeted as one of our ‘ones to watch in 2016′ list.

Gilligan Moss
Stasis

14.) Lower Dens – “Ondine”

Coming in with one of the most criminally underrated albums this year, Escape From Evil, and hailing from one of the more overlooked indie scenes in Baltimore (see: Future Islands, Beach House), Lower Dens also quietly dropped one of the most beautiful singles of the year in “Ondine”. At first glance, “Ondine” appears to be a sugary-sweet pop ditty, as its syncopated drum-machine cadence, light & glittery synths, and cherry guitar layering set the perfect backdrop for Jana Hunter’s aching lyrics to unfold on. But, when she repeats the song’s devastating vocal hook -“I will treat you better” then bellows the most painful iteration of “Hold On” we’ve ever heard- you just can’t help but to fall like a broken feather into its center. Hold on for a minute while we go cry.

Lower Dens
Ondine

13.) Neon Indian – “Annie”

“Annie” was the alt-pop posterchild of 2015. With its asymmetrically bent synth stabs and Palomo’s breathy incantations, it’s the kind of breezy, faux-dub/tropical pop synthesis that acts like Tears For Fears and Duran Duran concocted to mass pop stardom in the early 80’s. “Annie” fluidly bends a kind of electronic instrumentation that soothes the most vicious of new-wave revivalists with the kind of forward thinking, pop experimentalism that seems to excite those *ahem* droves of snooty music writers as well. If you missed it, back in October Ninja Dom put together an incredible review of  Neon Indian’s 2015 return to the LP format VEGA INT’l Night School, which does much more justice to each track than this writer ever could.

Neon Indian
Annie

12.) Brothertiger – “Wake”

2015 was a huge year for Brooklyn based multi-instrumentalist John Jagos, and this was the single that started it all. “Wake” sputters out a balmy, smooth vocal wrapped around his usual brand of off-kilter, hand-keyed electronic pop structuring for a feel that is simultaneously familiar, unique and addictive. “Wake” leans ever so slightly toward a corner of yacht-rock that would make Bill Hader & Fred Armisen’s Documentary Now! fictional supergroup ‘The Blue-Jean Committee’ tip their hats, but the ambient tones utilized here wash over its listener like an enveloping fog to create a soundscape that touches upon numerous aural aesthetics. “Wake”, was an entrancing and utterly lovely tune combining a number of things we love about Jagos’ Brothertiger project and a welcome peak into his excellent 2015 Out Of Touch LP.

Brothertiger
Wake

11.) Deerhunter “Living My Life”

Long time staples of every indie-writer-in-the-know’s list of genre pushing acts, Deerhunter’s follow up to 2013’s Monomania, Fading Frontier, delivered more than a few bright spots. On “Living My Life”, Deerhunter delivers a special kind of syrupy pop creaminess –which hasn’t been the most affixed comparison to their experimental pop catalog. Encased in a gauzy, droning splash of guitar and precisely sourced electronics, “Living My Life” wields the kind of majesty that so many critics demand of their most high-minded musicians; especially of Bradford Cox. Quite simply, it’s a sad song that feels happy, and an incredible single entry into one of the decade’s most impressive libraries.

10.) DIIV – “Bent” (Roi’s Song)

From the reverby, amorphous guitar chords to its paced drumming; “Bent” lets its listener settle in warmly before Zachary Cole Smith’s icy vocals penetrate its sonic terrain. On this record, Smith’s cadence is an achy one, rising and falling like the sleeping chest of whoever you’re sharing your bed with, but without nearly as many affectations as were in play on their debut long-player Oshin. But his incantations aren’t distant either, coming across as intimately as a shared conversation over a pillow case, while Devin Ruben Perez’s bassline plucks along heartily enough to subtly captivate its listener without delineating from the rest of the tune’s lovely instrumentation. We’re chomping at the bit for the release of 2016’s Is The Is Are and this was one of the biggest reasons why.

DIIV
Bent (Rois Song)

9.) Jamie xx – “Gosh”

“Gosh” (and pretty much all of Jamie xx’s amazing 2015 LP In Colour) is a musical study in perspective. What starts under a fully magnified scope focused on heavy bass and a simple vocal hook, gradually pans further and further out, flipping from a microscopic gaze to a telescopic overview, until its almighty, high-pitched synth crescendo clobbers through a soup of chopped and sampled percussion to shatter everything apart, simultaneously opening even more space for In Colour to rebuild with a sort of Big Bang cyclicality. There’s just so much at play within this one 3 minute sonic trek, it’s overwhelming. With two solo albums and two albums with The xx under his belt, yung Jamie has quickly become the genre-pushing “it-boy” amongst both the underground dance heads and indie nostalgists all at once. And it’s tunes like this which help solidify his place in the spotlight.

8.) Roosevelt – “Night Moves”

Roosevelt has long felt like an act waiting for that one crossover hit before spilling over into mainstream consciousness. While we’ve been waiting pretty patiently for another full body of work after 2013’s phenomenal Elliot EP, we were luckily held over by “Night Moves” as a single which popped up unannounced on Greco-Roman Records’ Soundcloud earlier this year. On “Night Moves”, all of Roosevelt’s sonic elements for which we’ve grown to love are still there; the warm and suffuse melodies, the soothing psychedelia and the streamlined pop structures, but this time around they’ve wrapped themselves much more closely than ever to the realm of dance music. Carefully layed out acid synth -which leans into Phuture’s 1987 vision more than his tastemaking contemporaries might stray towards- worms its way throughout a thick sea of pop mutations, while a steady four-four kick never relinquishes its hold on the entire track. We could go on for hours about the finely tuned single that was “Night Moves”, but we’ll just let you listen instead.

Roosevelt
Night Moves

7.) Youth Lagoon – “Highway Patrol Stun Gun”

Idaho seems like quite the unlikely place for genre-pushing experimentalist pop acts to flourish, yet here we are almost in 2016 and Youth Lagoon finds themselves sitting in the heart of Boise, churning out some of this writer’s favorite music of the young decade. After 2013’s incredible Wondrous Bughouse, we’d been patiently waiting for a follow-up, and Youth Lagoon returned as sharp as ever in 2015 with Savage Hills Ballroom. The album’s second single, “Highway Patrol Stun Gun,” was inspired by one of the absolute worst media themes this year: increasing reports of police violence. About the tune, band mastermind Trevor Powers stated: “With all the police brutality in the media, it seemed like every single day there was some element of chaos—but in different forms. It just got so bad. I feel like we live in this shitstorm now where there’s so many corrupt people in high places, people getting away with all this shit. So, I sat down and I decided to just write whatever came to my mind. Living in Idaho, it’s easy to feel isolated from all of these events, and that was sort of my way of dealing with it.” “Highway Patrol Stun Gun” features notable characteristics of previous Youth Lagoon work, like Powers’ ambling, innocent tenor, but also diverges; incorporating a much wider variety of instrumentation coupled with an acute sense of careful production. While we grew just as tired of the repeated police brutality headlines, we’re just happy that Powers chose to deal with the aforementioned “shitstorm” with such a great tune.

6.) Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin”

A simple, fingerpicked indie-folk guitar loop dominates most of Kurt Vile’s beautiful b’lieve i’m goin down opener “Pretty Pimpin”, but it’s in the rolling opus’ lyrical details where it all blossoms into something much more. A most basic encounter with his reflection in the bathroom mirror sends him into a daze: “Who’s that stupid clown blocking the bathroom sink?” he quips, trying to “recognize” and come to grips with “the man in the mirror”. Vile’s Slick Rick level of storytelling is on full display on “Pretty Pimpin” and cracks the door wide open for by far one of the brightest LP entries to 2015. Clearly Vile’s time since leaving THe War On Drugs has done the dazed superstar a world of good.

5.) Mac DeMarco – “The Way You’d Love Her”

In just two-and-a-half minutes, “The Way You’d Love Her” displays just about everything we love about Canadian indie-maestro. Perhaps there is none better at dragging a wave of sarcastic ribbing through the wide-eyed, hopeful, heartfelt ballad than Mac DeMarco. On “The Way You’d Love Her”, Demarco’s faintly mumbled reverberations take center stage as with much of his most stirring work; hypnotizing and drawing its listener into the romance – until he gives a little yelp and breaks the mood with a classically Demarco, pitch-controlled, indie-surf guitar solo to wrap things up. How could you not just swoon to this one?

Mac Demarco
The Way Youd Love Her

4.) Mas Ysa – “Look Up”

Perhaps the most exciting and perplexing artistic entry into this writer’s constantly expanding list of new groundbreaking acts, Thomas Arsenault’s Mas Ysa project shot straight into our hearts with a bullet this year; especially behind power-single “Look Up”. Hurtling drums and cascades of synth propel “Look Up” forward throughout its quick duration, but the most welcoming addition to Mas Ysa’s sonic toolbox, and one we think pulled him from art-house-hipster’s iPods into more mainstream territory, was an acoustic guitar that plays like it was lifted straight from Ben Gibbard’s The Photo Album stem collection. “Look Up”‘s end result wonderfully displays a compelling growth in Mas Ysa’s craft, and one that’s got us beyond excited for what 2016 brings from Mas Ysa.

Mas Ysa
Look Up

3.) Shamir – “On The Regular”

How one unique kid from North Las Vegas managed to take the entire indie-pop world by storm will always be beyond me. Shamir Bailey never had an army of press or publicicsts behind him; rather the wunderkind producer/singer/songwriter let his debut LP Ratchet and its gorgeous slices of tuneage speak for him instead. Hell, it wasn’t even until at least four months after Ratchet‘s release that it was even available on torrent clients. Now, in 2015 that, ninjas, is called flying under the radar. But, it was largely the radio success of lead single “On The Regular” which pushed Shamir from a cooped up bedroom artist to ‘Late Show’ darling. “On The Regular” was the hyper addictive blend of Warehouse era Chicago house swing, 80’s synths that lean in on you like the arm of someone on a NY subway, pop structuring and of course Shamir’s delicate refrain; which all resulted into our favorite purely pop cut of the year.

2.) Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”

The sea-change from the deepest throws of psych-rock displayed on Innerspeaker and Lonerism presents itself immediately on Currents’ opener “Let It Happen”- a tune we’re sure you’re familiar with. Right off the bat, Tame Impala diehards may have noticed an immediate structural change as an analog four-four snare and kickdrum pattern takes center stage with next to nothing in the realm of those scuzzy and heavy guitars we’ve grown accustomed from Kevin Parker’s baby. That is of course, until six minutes in, you’re clobbered by a loopy and simple four-chord guitar progression which only really enhances this track’s ambient minutiae. But it’s the entire build and movement that seals its listener into Currents from this one single.  There’s more nuanced hi-pass drum filtering put into “Let It Happen” than most bands would dream of utilizing in their entire careers, save for cdance producers (which after “Elephant” isn’t too surprising really) signaling Tame Impala’s careful and precise attention to not only their lead single, but the album as a whole. “Let It Happen” simultaneously cracks open Currents like a punch in the gut, while giving the long-player the necessary room it needs to breathe and evolve as an entire movement. Quite honestly, it may be this writer’s favorite opening to any album within the annals of time, and if you it, be sure to check out another one of Ninja Dom’s insightful and captivating LP reviews for Currents here.

Tame Impala
Let It Happen

1.) Thundercat – “Them Changes”

On “Them Changes”, the six-string Brainfeeder bass virtuoso known as Thundercat has strayed from the post-breakup day-to-day struggle thematically found frequently on his last LP Apocalypse, and this time glumly arrived at full-blown devastation. The tune is a warning shot of sorts, as “Nobody Move/There’s Blood On The Floor” forms the first line and only digs further into the overwhelming finality and acceptance of heartbreak similar to a cop stumbling across a murder scene. While lyrically, “Them Changes” is a morbidly morose view into Thundercat’s expansive headspace, musically, he’s built one of the richest soundscapes of any 3:00 minute single in history. It’s got emotional turmoil sung in a masculine yet delicate falsetto, and it’s got a heaping spoonful of noodly, six-string bass funk. Two worlds have never collided so beautifully. It’s only fitting that Thundercat’s most notable Brainfeeder cohorts Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington make appearances -albeit in small doses- on his biggest, perhaps even career-defining single. No one wanted to miss out on the fun of “Them Changes” in 2015.

Thundercat
Them Changes

Honorable Mentions: Tame Impala – “Disciples”, “The Less I Know The Better”, “Eventually”, “‘Cause I’m a Man”; Tobias Jesso Jr. – “Hollywood”; Chromatics – “Shadow”; NITE-FUNK (Nite Jewel & Dâm-Funk) – Can U Read Me; Disclosure – “Nocturnal”; Tundran – “Kimono”; Drake – “Know Yourself”, “Hotline Bling”; Grimes – “Flesh Without Blood”; Beach House – “Sparks”; Tanlines – “Pieces”; The Arcs – “Put A Flower In Your Pocket”; Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – “S.O.B.”; U.S. Girls – “Window Shades”; – Best Coast – “Feeling Ok”; YACHT – “I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler”; A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Days & More Nights”; Motorama – “Heavy Wave”, “Impractical Advice”; Kelela – “Rewind”; Favored Nations – “I Can See You”; Calvin Love – “Automaton”; Viet Cong – “Silhouettes”, “Continental Shelf”; Autre Ne Veut – “Panic Room”; GEMS – “Living As a Ghost”

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[15 to End 2015] Ninja Michael’s Best of the Year

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Chill Dojo regulars shouldn’t be too surprised about what comes up in my 2015 playlist. The volume of amazing music just gets bigger and bigger every year, and as hard as it is to keep up with it all, it’s even tougher to narrow it down to just 15 tracks. Nevertheless, the entrants below have endured a series of rigorous challenges to emerge from the Dojo as my chosen few…

…Well it really wasn’t that dramatic. They’re just the ones that have been stuck in my head consistently all year. Here are the reasons why:

Mura Masa
Firefly (ft. Nao)

Out of all the artists who have had a big 2015,Mura Masa has definitely shown the most promise for me. Not only has ‘Firefly’ been my number 1 addiction all year, but together with a number of his other stellar releases, he’s managed to define his own signature sound which has served as an inspiration to the producers around him. That’s no small feat.

Cosmos Midnight
Walk With Me (feat. KUČKA)
Cosmo’s Midnightdelivered not only one of 2015’s indie dance anthems, but also one of the most entertaining music videos to go with it. Huskies, matching tracksuits, and a killer piece of choreography all come together to show that these spirited Aussie twins can nail a dance routine just as well as they handle production. ‘Walk With Me’ was recently released on their Moments EP, which showcases more of their phenomenal work this year.

Snakehips
All My Friends (Wave Racer Remix) PREVIEW
Wave Racer was always going to make his way on to this list in one way or another. ‘All My Friends’ has catapulted itself into mainstream success, but Wavey’s trademark colorful sound elevates this hit to another level. That said, any one of the tracks on his Flash Drive EP could easily have found themselves included as well.

Sable
One And Only
The promotion of Sable’s URL LUV tour across Australia was one of the most creative social media campaigns this year, incorporating a series of comics and a steady release of new songs in the lead up to the gigs across the country. Though his alter ego Shadow Sable allowed him to showcase a darker side to his music, the blissful vibe of ‘One And Only’ will be the lasting memory of this incredible show.

Izzard & Blankts
Threads
One of the best revelations of 2015 was the emergence of the Soda Island collective, giving light to a glorious group of artists crafting songs which act as an aural window to the magical world they represent. Of all their 2015 releases, Izzard and Blankts’ ‘Threads’ tugged at the heartstrings from the very first listen and hasn’t let go since.

Ryan Hemsworth
Snow In Newark (Grynpyret Remix)
Another inhabitant of Soda Island is the mysterious Grynpyret, and while ‘Boba Beach’ was his official contribution to the cause, his remix of ‘Snow in Newark’ was such an imaginative interpretation of the original that it just couldn’t be overlooked.

Louis The Child
Its Strange (Ft. K.Flay)
This one has made its way into plenty of best of 2015 lists across the blogosphere, and with good reason too. ‘It’s Strange’ encompasses the pair’s ethos of creating music that makes you happy, and the music industry has taken notice.

San Holo
We Rise
His moniker couldn’t be any more relevant right now, but a clever choice of name is certainly not the thing that San Holo can hang his hat on for his success this year. The combination of slick beats and euphoric basslines do that job just fine, and ‘We Rise’ is one of his best displays of that.

WRLD
Razor Leaf

The young mind of WRLD is a vibrant universe inspired by a number of different influences. His prolific efforts in the future bass space are the outcome of that mind at work, and ‘Razor Leaf’ is an example of his enchanting melodies on full display.

Gallant
Weight In Gold (Brasstracks Remix)
Clocking in as one of the most remixed tracks of 2015, Gallant certainly left his mark with the soulful anthem ‘Weight in Gold’. Brasstracks ensured they gave this one the edit it truly deserved in the best way they know how.

Lido x Brasstracks
Four Five Seconds
Not content with only one remix on this list, Brasstracks demanded a second feature thanks to their collaboration with Lido on this joyful take on ‘Four Five Seconds’. When you combine the musical powerhouses that provide the lyrics with these adepts of the production game, you know something unforgettable is about to be heard.

Towkio
Heaven Only Knows (Ft. Chance The Rapper, Lido & Eryn Allen Kane)
The lineup of names was enough to prelude the enormity of this track before a single bar was dropped. Straight fire!

Action Bronson
Baby Blue ft. Chance The Rapper (Prod. Mark Ronson)
From one piece of hip hop brilliance to the next, Action Bronson and Chance combine for one of the ultimate breakup songs. The simple hook yet incredibly catchy hook is just made to sing along with, while the rest of the clever lyricism embodies a much deeper message about hurt.

RÜFÜS
You Were Right
RÜFÜS shook up the airwaves with their numerous hits this year, but the deep, driving beat and addictive chorus cement ‘You Were Right’ as the pinnacle of the bunch. This one was made to be played out in front of a packed audience.

Fatboy Slim
Mad Flava (Autograf Remix)
The last spot in this list belongs to my favorite groove of 2015, courtesy of some remix heat from Autograf. Musical trends will come and go each year, but nobody can deny a slick jungle beat to send a dancefloor into an absolute frenzy. The serious Crash Bandicoot vibes bring back a flood of nostalgia every time.
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[15 to End 2015] Ninja Jordan’s Best of the Year

endoftheyearJordan

2015 marks a new era in music. I know that’s a grand claim, but hear me out. We haven’t seen this kind of experimentation and innovation in many, many years– so much so that I’m taking it upon myself to title 2015 the year of the Phoenix. *Insert smoke bomb quick change effect here.*

The concept of quality music has entirely re-birthed itself and with it the consumer base’s understanding of artistry has grown ten-fold. Artists like Grimes and Kendrick have experimented with elements that have been foreign to any of their previous works, Thundercat has stepped on the scene in a mainstream way that I would have never thought possible, and the Biebs has actually issued public apologies for his shenanigans and it is on that principle that I include him on this list. Just kidding, he just made a great track with the help of good ol’ Wes and Sonny.

But I feel weirdly proud of all of them. And with that, I bring you my list of the best tracks of 2015. Hope you enjoy.

Skrillex and Diplo
Where Are Ü Now (with Justin Bieber)

I know this song is everywhere all the time, but credit is due where it’s deserved, and thanks to this track made Bieber 10x more attractive. Probably ‘cause Diplo touched it. Mmmm Diplo.

Shlomo
BURIED
“Buried” provides a haunting introduction to one of his best works so far, Dark Red, that I to this day cannot stop blasting, and sometimes I put a sheet over my head and lurk around to it and that’s not strange.

Viet Cong
Continental Shelf
Off their self-titled EP, “Continental Shelf” best encapsulates the emergence of a new age rock band that just seems to know what the freak (it might be 2015 but my lingo’s stuck in ’05) is up.

Psychemagik
Mink & Shoes feat Navid Izadi
A new kind of dubby club music—this track just makes me feel like straight struttin’ and was one of the hottest releases in electronic.

Lane 8
Diamonds ft. Solomon Grey
This whole EP was just a great release for electronic music, and “Diamonds” is a beautiful example of the finesse Lane 8 put into this work.

Major Lazer & Dj Snake
Lean On (Feat Mø)
I had the privilege of being on the Mad Decent tour this summer and watching the things that this song does to a crowd every night is incredible– this track gets my best vibes vote, and Wes gets the chillest life vote.

Rae Sremmurd
No Type (Prod. By Mike WiLL Made It & Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd)
Alright, this song just speaks for itself. Next.

Courtney Barnett
Pedestrian At Best
My god I love the genre she pioneered with this release, and I love how incredibly distinct she’s made her character within every single thing she bestows upon us. Also possibly one of the most clever lyricists of 2015: “I think you’re a joke, but I don’t find you very fuuuuunnuuunnuunnuuunnny.”

Jamie XX
Loud Places (ft Romy)
Jamie xx has always been a favo(u)rite of mine, and we send him our deepest congratulation(u)ns for the work of art he’s given the music wo(u)rld with his EP In Colour, and especially the track “Loud Places.” Also sorry for making fun of u.

Thundercat
Them Changes

Jesus, this song has the most talent I’ve seen since Jordan. The depth of this track is astounding and I thank Thundercat for his supporting role in Fly Lo and Kendrick’s works, but I’m so happy he’s made it big with his own stuff this time around.

Deru
1979

This song is much heavier than the rest and the artist is not well known, but Deru’s “1979” along with the rest of the EP is a work of genius—especially when you read how he recorded it. Just awe-inspiring.

Bored In The USA
Another real talk post—Father John Misty you are inspirational and prophetic and thank you for delivering this ballad to us. The quality quotient of this song is so high that I’m convinced it will be listened to for decades.

Grimes
Fresh Without Blood/Live In The Vivid Dream
Grimes kicked major ass with Art Angels and “Flesh without Blood” instills in me the happiness, weightlessness, and honestly hope that no other song in 2015 has. She is 100% the role model that all women, and all people because eff gendered statements Jordan, need.

Tame Impala
Let It Happen
Woof, this is getting intense. “Let It Happen” wins the best alternative song of the year, hands down. I haven’t heard a breakdown like this since never.

Kendrick Lamar
u

And finally, closing out the best of 2015, comes the best track off of the best album of the year in my opinion, “u”—a song that explores consciousness, vice and transformation like no other musical work I’ve ever heard. Kendrick’s theatrical performance in “u” sends the listener to their deepest and realest state—one of the wonders of musical composition that I am probably most thankful for.

And with that… here are Jordan’s top 15 tracks of 2015 listed from 15 to 1. Hope you enjoy.

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