[R&B] Lido & Santell – Passion Project II (EP Review)

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’Lido & Santell – Committed’
’Lido & Santell – Recruit’
’Lido & Santell – Mariah/Say You Scared’

After releasing the well-circulated, greatly successful album Everything this past October, Lido hopped on tour to promote his new material. As we covered during a stop here in the Bay Area, Lido was equipped with an impressive live setup, taking over some of the most prestigious venues across the country. Now, after finishing up the Everything Tour, the young producer has once again teamed up with Santell to follow up their Passion Project series.

A slight departure from the solo sounds of Lido and a world away from the Jersey Club characteristics of Trippy Turtle, the duo have made clear in PPII that the success of the electronic R&B collaboration is no fluke. In fact, the genre is gaining some traction behind producers such as Mar and Full Crate as well. In Passion Project II, listeners get an earful of what the duo have been up to since the October 2015 release of PPI. Continue reading

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[Hip-Hop] Charles Jane LaFlare – 50 Shades of Jane

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Charles Jane LaFlare
Fifty Shades Of Jane (prod. Johnytiger)

There’s a new wave moving through Miami, a one-of-a-kind cut “50 Shades of Jane” courtesy of a first-class future music odd couple – the braggadocious R&B singer/songwriter Charles Jane LaFlare and the grungy, admittedly anti-social beat architect Johnytiger.

Though their collision on this track is potent, these Magic City natives appear to come from disparate backgrounds. Johnytiger gets out there on production, filtering wrecking guitar chords, 808 drums, and wide, low synthesizers through a grunge aesthetic. In fact, Johnytiger plays guitar with the durable hardcore band I Set My Friends On Fire. We were delightfully surprised to hear him cook up a saucy wave beat for LaFlare, an up-and-coming glamorous R&B cat who can really turn a phrase.

“You know I’m a savage / Why you flexing on me like you think you have it?” asks LaFlare. We’re not, you have it, guy. The back end of the tune gets dirty, with the white noise dropping off and LaFlare rhyming assertively over pure bass and drums, with a sardonic sampled vocal leading the track to its conclusion. I can’t remember hearing high-pitched, higher energy, innuendo-laced R&B rhymes over an electronically constructed quasi-rock song before, but I’m damn glad I heard it today.

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[Album Review] Azad – A Very Emotional EP

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We can’t help but appreciate the honesty shown by Azad on his newest EP. From the project’s title down to its most negligible lyric, the Los Angeles-based performer offers up straightforward thoughts and sensual energy in this classy hybrid of R&B and hip-hop, A Very Emotional EP. The record features a ton of material for an EP – verses laid out with consistent, adept flow, hooks highlighting his soft, lilting voice, all couched in excellent instrumentals from an all-star cast of producers. We’re grateful the singer/songwriter took enough time away from his label Mind Of A Genius to bless us with this compilation.

From track to track the EP tells a familiar but timeless story. First, serious longing and heartbreak. Then, introverted analysis leads to a return to confidence. Finally, it’s baby-making time.

“Enough of You” lays out the pattern that each song takes. Azad’s rhymes, sometimes styled more like freeform poetry than rap bars, tumble out towards in the verse towards a chorus that sounds like many a softer cut from Drake or J. Cole. The deep beat comes courtesy of Sango, Atu and Dpat, a trio which literally made great waves together in 2016. “Special” reminds one of The Weekend’s best tracks from 2016, but with more hard-edged lyricism in between the shiny hook. Catch the creative homage Azad pays to one particularly influential rhyme sayer in the second verse.

The talented Millz Douglas from East Baltimore holds it down with a great beat on “Godesses”, the type of pocket beat that offers a prime platform to a rapper, and Azad slides right in. The next two tracks, “Trust” and ‘Grind on Me” are produced by Jonathan Marquez, whose guitar samples refresh the soundscape. Trust is difficult to achieve, and the absence of it seems to be driving much of Azad’s emotional turmoil. Azad has a special ability to tell detailed, true stories in verse, especially on “Grind On Me”. Love songs are common, but it’s rare to hear an honest, productive, real discussion of relationship troubles packaged in smooth verse over the kick and snare. Only a few in the game do it well, and Azad puts forward his best effort on this cut.

Stwo from Paris offers my personal favorite beat on the compilation with “Ready”, a boom-bap dripping in bass with a kick that sounds like a heartbeat and a snare that is deliciously minimal. The lack of glamor in the instrumental makes room Azad’s smooth, soft flow. “Teach me how to love I never learned how / it’s like every house I ever built gets burned down.”

After such an emotional EP, “Sweet” is a perfect capitulation. The raunchy lyrics and braggadocio fit perfectly into HUCCI‘s big-ass booming beat (Strictly!).

A Very Emotional EP is a very strong effort from Azad. It’s exactly what an EP should be – a thoughtfully-curated series of stellar instrumentals, each one employed carefully by the songwriter to tell a different part of his emotional tale. Few artists rhyme with the complexity and sing with the catharsis of Azad while keeping it so real with the subject matter. With all the new-age R&B out there, it can be hard to find the durable cuts. A Very Emotional EP is full of them.

’Enough Of You (Prod. By Sango, Atu & Dpat)’
’Special (Prod. by Patrick Collier)’
’Goddesses (Prod. by Millz Douglas)’
’Trust (Prod. by Jonathan Marquez)’
’Grind On Me 2016 (Prod. by Jonathan Marquez)’
’Ready (Prod. by Stwo)’
’Bonus Sweet (Prod. by HUCCI)’
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[16 To End 2016] Ninja Clayton’s Best of the Year

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After a full twelve months of sifting through submission emails, IMs and tweets from artists, and pages upon pages of SoundCloud, BandCamp, and Spotify, I’m finally ready to sum up 2016 with my absolute favorite tracks. Some I wrote about, others I simply enjoyed. But, none the less, these 16 tracks filled my headphones, car speakers, and SONOS system over and over again throughout this past year.

Ranging from alternative, to indie dance, to outright dance floor heaters, this year stayed true to my typical tastes. I’m all over the board, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Viola Beach – Boys that Sing

Viola Beach’s debut album was one of my favorite collections of music in a long time, and I wholeheartedly believed that this budding young act was on their way to be the next big thing. As many of you know, all of these young musicians passed away in a tragic car accident on their way to a gig. But, the silver lining in all of this is that their music will live on forever. Throw on “Boys That Sing” and get ready to belt out the chorus.

Viola Beach
Boys that Sing
Argonaut & Wasp – The Sneeze

If you’re not onto these cats just yet, it’s about time you start paying attention. Their inventive, quirky, and highly addictive style is spreading quick. They don’t take themselves too seriously, which is evident in the playfulness of “The Sneeze.” Definitely one of my favs in 2016.

’The Sneeze’
Hidden Charms – Cannonball

I’m a huge fan of the gritty, heavy, and weird. Unfortunately, I don’t typically write up tracks that fit in that wheelhouse, just because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense here on TMN. However, Hidden Charms were a fringe act for me, allowing you to get a glimpse of some of my other musical tastes, while still fitting what we’re all about. It’s dark and hazy, with just a hint of pop, and to be perfectly honest, I still can’t get enough of it.

’Cannonball’
Ethan Burns – Homeward

Ethan Burns is truly an old soul, as evidenced through his smokey, iconic, and downright dreamy voice. I’m usually a fan of artists who call on styles and influences from earlier decades, and this selection definitely has a 60’s soul feel that I just can’t shake.

Ethan Burns
Homeward
Morly – Plucky

Coming in on the calmer side of the equation, this emotive offering from Minnesota-based Morly caught my attention earlier this year. Blending together some future bass elements and traditional singer/songwriter/pop styling, it’s a creative offering that should have you quickly engaged. I know it did for me.

’Plucky’
WEIRDO – Butter

I can’t help but smile when “Butter” comes on. It’s weird and wacky, yet still maintains perfect pop sensibilities, giving listeners an unexpected thrill ride throughout. If you’re into quirky indie pop, look no further than WEIRDO.

’BUTTER’
Gallant – Skipping Stones feat. Jhené Aiko

I couldn’t have a “Best of 2016” recap without giving an emphatic nod to Gallant. Excuse me, I meant the GRAMMY nominated Gallant. He’s spread across the globe faster than one of Donald Trump’s poorly crafted tweets, and it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. He’s the new voice of R&B and there’s nothing else to really say.

’Gallant – Skipping Stones feat. Jhené Aiko’
Tycho – Division

To be perfectly blunt, I just really fucking love Tycho. His spaced-out, indie-infused, electronica comes through my headphones quite regularly, whether I’m working, writing, or just hanging around the house. His albums never get old, and this year’s release certainly showcases that once again.

Tycho
Division
Pierce Fulton – Borrowed Lives

I was a bit thrown off when I first listened to this track. Could this really be Pierce Fulton? The same guy that put out “Kuaga?” It is. It seems like Fulton has had a change of heart, chasing after music he’s truly passionate about. The end result? Definitely one of my favorite tracks and EPs this year. As an added bonus, this particular track features one of my artists to watch in 2017, NVDES.

’Pierce Fulton – Borrowed Lives Feat. NVDES’
Kidnap Kid – Moments

If one track encapsulates an entire year, it’s this one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it, or how many people I’ve introduced to it, or how many Moments I’ve experienced to it. It’s absolutely amazing and deserves the highest of praise.

’Moments ft Leo Stannard’
Justin Jay – What Do You Want

To be perfectly honest, I could list a few tracks from Fantastic Voyage, but since I’m trying to spread the love to some other artists, I’ll just go with my fav. “What Do You Want” has had a heavy place in my regular rotation since the day it came out. I can’t wait to see what Justin Jay does in 2017.

Justin Jay – What Do You Want
Julian Maverick – Move Magic

This one flew under the radar a bit, coming in at just over 50k plays on SoundCloud, but it was fantastic, none-the-less. Silky, smooth, tropical, and perfect for a lazy day by the pool. I definitely blasted this out my windows throughout the last few warm-weather days here in Denver. And, I’ll be holding onto it for future summer playlists.

’Move Magic’
Goldwash – U Wont

I’m in love with Goldwash, and everyone who’s around me knows it. “U Won’t” showcases everything I adore about this up-and-coming act, highlighted by his piano work, funk-laden beats, and gorgeous falsettos. I’m expecting great things out of him in 2017.

’But U Won’t’
The Magician – Shy

I first caught onto The Magician at UMF in 2015, and I haven’t looked back since. From his captivating sets, to his legendary Magic Tapes, to his curated artists on Potion, to his remixes and originals, I just love everything he’s got going on. “Shy” definitely had it’s place in my heart this year, often getting me revved up for a wild night on the town.

The Magician
Shy
Bobby Nourmand – S I S T E R

Being the huge classic rock nerd that I am, Bobby Nourmand always impresses me with his reinterpretations of iconic songs. It takes a confident artist to remix acts like The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, and Billy Idol. There’s a lot that can go wrong. Fortunately for this LA-based artist, it always comes out right. Tastefully done and quite memorable.

’BOBBY NOURMAND – S I S T E R’
Roby – Waterfalls (Dear David Remix)

This song is so subtle. So delicate. So sensuous. The vocal samples are so meticulously and creatively crafted and placed, creating an otherworldly experience. I could listen to it over and over again. And, I have.

Roby
Waterfalls (Dear David Remix)
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The Aston Shuffle Talk New Remix For Neo-Soul Legend Maxwell [TMN Interview]

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This track boasts seven minutes of Neo-Soul legend Maxwell’s falsetto voice paired with The Aston Shuffle‘s groovy, deep house production and is simply stated, a perfect match. The Australian duo recently impressed us with their “Only 100s” mix and now they’ve given us a track worthy of placement in their own series. With basslines capable of inducing a trance like state of mind matched to a smooth body moving melody, The Aston shuffle have created a project to end 2016 in a bold way.

“Huge fan of The Aston Shuffle, they keep it so soulful and raw for the dance clubs.” – Maxwell

2017 is soon approaching and news is they’ll be gracing us with another original release on The Magician’s Potion label. After what we’ve seen in 2016 there’s no question these two should be on everyone’s watch list. I got the chance to ask the guys a bit about the new remix. You can stream the track on Spotify or Youtube.

TMN: 2016 has been quite the year for music – How have you guys grown throughout the year and what would you say was your greatest moment?

TAS: 2016 has been great for us! We had 3 releases (High With You, Only 1 and Make A Wrong Thing Right) come out on one of our favourite record labels, Potion (The Magician’s label). We did a few national tours here in Australia and Vance has been busy spreading The Aston Shuffle message across the US with his recent move to NY, and we’ve continued to get great listenership with our Friday Night Shuffle radio show.

TMN: MAXWELL is no rookie when it comes to music. The NYC soulful R&B singer has been around for quite some time. What did you like best about remixing this particular track?

TAS: It was all about the vocal, it’s so dope and catchy! The producers treated the vocal with some really cool effects which really grabbed our attention and ultimately drove the direction in which we took the remix.

TMN: How did it feel to have Maxwell reach out to you about this remix? Describe your reaction.

TAS: We’ve been long time fans of his since the 90’s. He reached out to us saying he really vibed on our song “Tear It Down” It was unbelievable to have an artist of this calibre resonate with our music. We’ve been in regular contact since. He’s an absolute legend so to have remixed a song off his album was one to tick off the bucket list!

TMN: Did you have a certain direction in mind for this or was it more go with the flow?

TAS: Not really, we just went with the flow like we normally do when doing remixes. It was totally unintentional but it ended up with a bit of a nod to some classic Armand Van Heldon vibes.

TMN: Not only have you released this remix but started the Only 100s mix – What do you look for when selecting music?

TAS: Between our radio show and DJ sets, we are seriously inundated with new music. It’s seriously crazy the amount of music we have to go through each and every week! So to help with our workflow we create a shortlist of club weapons. These tracks are what we consider to be the standout tracks of the moment whether it’s a Balearic house jam or a certified techno banger, if it’s dope, then we’re playing it on Only 100s.

TMN: What direction do you see yourselves going in 2017? Is there anything particularly exciting you can share?

TAS: We already have a few releases ready to go in 2017 which you’ll be hearing about very soon. We’ll be continuing our Friday Night Shuffle radio show and also building the Only 100s name. It’s going to be a busy year for us but we’re already looking forward to it!

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[Event Preview] BUKU Music & Arts Project March 10-11

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Every city in America has its own music scene, but in New Orleans, music is a way of life – a cultural infrastructure as essential to the city as its freeways and French Quarter. Jazzfest attracts the best in rock, folk and jazz to NOLA each year, but for those of us who want more youthful, visceral music and a more colorful, fluid experience, BUKU Music and Arts Project goes down on March 10-11, 2016 for the sixth year straight.

BUKU stands out in a saturated music festival market both for its timing (arguably the first big event of “festival season”) and it’s consistently nuanced lineup. No one is reinventing the wheel by stacking their lineup with hip-hop, indie, and dance music, but whom are you booking specifically? It takes balls and creativity to craft a card of eclectic, forward-thinking and often experimental artists like what BUKU has assembled. Where else can you see Deadmau5 and Travis Scott? Clams Casino and Troyboi? Shiba San and Thundercat? If you’ve answered, “I can see them at Festival XYZ,” it doesn’t matter, because that’s not in New Orleans.

BUKU is set just outside the city’s French Quarter on a sprawling riverside esplanade. The Power Plant stage is adjacent to the river and sits in the shadow of an abandoned industrial colossus. Two indoor stages diversify the vibe with The Ballroom offering an intimate aesthetic, and the Float Den serving as a massive gathering spot lined with Mardi Gras floats and craft vendors. A fourth stage, the Back Alley, is tucked beneath the Crescent City Connection bridge and offers an unbroken stream of dance music all day and into the night.
Continue reading

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Quinn XCII Speaks On New Track Straightjacket [TMN Interview]

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Quinn XCII
Straightjacket

You wouldn’t think the temperature is starting to drop when listening to Quinn XCII’s music, including his recent single “Straightjacket.” This vocalist/songwriter has seamlessly melded electronic, hip-hop, soul, and pop and brought heat to everything he’s touched this year. His singles and EP’s have landed him a tour with Louis the Child, #1 spots on HypeMachine, over 40 million plays on Spotify, and regular spins at Top 40 radios around the country.

The single, produced by The Wiild, is a buoyant tune that floats just in between hip-hop and electronic, a skill that Quinn has mastered. The simplified melody keeps focus on the lyrics and the story behind them telling a relatable story that some, if not all, of us may have experienced when dealing with love. We were excited to catch up with Quinn and ask him more about his year and the single.

TMN: What got you into music? Have you always been a singer?

Q: I can remember being a fan of music since I could walk and hearing my parents play it around the house. That, and I was always into creative writing. It wasn’t until my freshmen year of college, though, that I really put the two together and started writing my own content and sharing it with friends. At the time it was actually more indie-rap stuff, but then I started focusing on singing and things started to evolve into my current sound.

TMN: Detroit is a huge hub for music and art in general, has growing up in Michigan influenced your music in any way?

Q: Definitely. The older Detroit music I feel has strongly shaped my writing in terms of melodies. Motown, du-wop style melodies that have that ear-candy quality about them has always attracted me, and I think have definitely crossed over into my own music.

TMN: A lot of your work is in collaboration with ayokay, did he help with “Straightjacket” or did you work with someone new?

Straightjacket was actually produced by The Wiild, a very talented producer from Australia who works with a lot of the pop acts out there. ayokay and I are still working very closely on my new music though, he’ll be producing majority of my next project again. We live together and have a studio in our house so we’re constantly writing new things together – it’s a really creative environment.

TMN: Almost a year ago you released the Bloom EP – Is “Straightjacket” just a single or can we expect something more after this? Another EP or LP?

Q: Straightjacket is the first song from my upcoming debut album. We’ll be releasing a few more singles from the project in the coming months and then we’re expecting to have the full album out by Spring/Summer of 2017!

TMN: Any specific inspiration behind Straightjacket?

Q: The idea behind Straightjacket was really about shedding light on the girl that has secrets, more bad ones than good. She acts a certain way in public and in front of your friends, but behind closed doors is a bit of psycho and can’t be contained. The two-faced mentality was very appealing to me to try to put into words and narrate.

TMN: You were on tour with Louis The Child, what was that like? What would you say was your favorite stop?

Touring with LTC was amazing. They’re both super talented guys and it’s really inspiring to see them at such a young age connect with people the way they have been. I’d say my favorite stop on the tour was in Minneapolis.. All the stops were amazing but that show has stuck out to me since getting off the road.

TMN: How would you sum up your 2016? Any specific moments stick out in particular?

Q: I signed with Columbia Records over the summer, which has definitely been one of the most memorable moments of the year. I’d say 2016 as a whole can be summed up as a big stepping stone for both ayokay and myself. I think we really made a big stride in our careers and are finally beginning to get placed on the platform we’ve been striving for. Now it’s just a matter of how much we want this to continue, and putting in the work is what will dictate that. I’m ready for it.

TMN: What’s 2017 looking like for you?

Q: 2017 will include the release of my debut album, a lot more touring, festivals, some really cool collaborations, and hopefully a lot more.

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