Tonight, I want to love you.
Alan Palomo, aka chillwave’s synth lord Neon Indian, announced the release of his new album VEGA INTL. Night School after four years of going on hiatus. The new album, set for release on October 16th under Mom and Pop/Transgressive, was recorded and mixed in various studios all over the world.
Part of his announcement was also the release of a new single from this full-length album, Slumlord. Neon Indian has been known for this unique dazed electro disco-dance vibe that I myself first found confusing, but eventually got addicted to. This signature sound established Palomo as one of the founding fathers of the chillwave genre.
Unlike his previous songs, Slumlord sounds more organized, sleek, and well-polished making it very approachable and easy to listen to especially for the late-adopters and new listeners of the genre. The overall vibe of the song makes you feel like you’re in the 80s because of its heavily influenced old-school new wave sound, but eventually fast forwarding you to the future through the innovative and perfect blend of synths, bass, and drums that has been the trend in almost all songs these days.
If Slumlord, along with the earlier released single Annie, captures the overall vibe and sound of Neon Indian’s new record, I would highly recommend VEGA INTL Night School to be in your top albums of 2015.
It’s been three years since Brisbane-based Last Dinosaurs released their stellar debut LP In a Million Years, an album which I believe was able to perfectly marry dream pop and indie rock in order to capture a wider set of music audience. This was followed up just recently with the release of their more mature-sounding album, Wellness.
What’s good about this album is that the band was able to stick to the sound they are known for – upbeat, disco-sounding riffs that will make any listener both sing and dance to their songs. The album was well-made and thought of, won’t deny them that. There are a lot of promising tracks like ‘Evie’, ‘Apollo’, and ‘Purist’ as they sounded like the tracks in In a Million Years. The instrumentals are impeccably made with its dancey guitar lines and catchy synths, partnered with Sean Caskey’s dreamy vocals. However, the whole vibe of this record seemed forced and flat. Unlike the first album, transitions to the next songs were not as smooth, and the tracks sounded disconnected to each other. Most of the songs were also forgettable as they all sounded the same. One would only be able to appreciate the album better if they listened to it more than once, with each time more intently and focused than the last one.
Wellness was a sophomore semi-slump. There was so much potential in this album because of the great attention to detail they put in each song. Unfortunately, they dwelled too much on the technicalities with the intention to sound more mature that they complete forgot the fun Last Dinosaurs essence that their audience fell in love with. It was easy to cherry-pick favorites and skip unmemorable ones, leaving them at the losing side of the spectrum. What’s good though is that they focused more on their song writing this time, making the album emotionally honest and closer to the listener. I’m looking forward to how these songs will be played live, and hopefully, they will be able to make it more exciting than the album-listening experience. It was hard to follow up In A Million Years. Hopefully, Last Dinosaurs will be able to learn so many lessons from this release; at least they would know exactly how to turn around future records, and that is by focusing more on their signature sound which will always be the first point of contact of the listeners to their material.
Sometimes, things don’t come full circle.
For those late night, heart to heart conversations.
Andy Cato and Tom Findlay, better known as the duo Groove Armada, just recently launched the first instalment of their Little Black Book series album under the UK Label Moda Black. Being considered as one of the veterans in the dance music scene was very evident in this album as they were able to stick to the sound they are more known for – steady, synth-laden house music backed up by groovy basslines that kind of reminds you of a Night at the Roxbury. Despite the proliferation of many other dance music artists in the biz, they have clearly set themselves apart by having this distinct 90s rave/disco-inspired and (thank God for this) bass drop-free sound, which eventually produces nothing but top quality house music that’s very easy on anyone’s musical palate.
The 80-minute musical journey offered by the first disc includes 7 new tracks and other Groove Armada’s original music and remixes from the past years. Clear standout tracks were Push, Soho Disco, Alright, and Rescue Me. What I like most about this album would be the clean and smooth transitions in between songs. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing as it highly encourages non-stop dancing from the listener’s part. It was very obvious that the tracks were well-made and thought of, with the first half mostly having that chill dance/discotheque vibe, purposefully done to build up to the album climax. Post-Alright, you will notice that the tracks are mostly bass-heavy, intertwining in soulful vocal samples, which is the success formula of the Groove Armada dance equation.
It’s safe to say that RÜFÜS’ tropical house hits perfectly suited the Indonesian weather last Saturday when they played at We the Fest 2015. But unlike all the other electronic music bands nowadays, they are actually able to set themselves apart from the crowd by making their songs aurally and lyrically pleasant. They are able to perfect that blend of romance, desolation, and even travel in their songs, enhancing it further by putting in their signature minimal yet infectious rhythms and beats. I’m pretty sure they have the best song-writing you will hear in today’s contemporary electronic music scene.
The guys opened their set with Modest Life, which I believe was the perfect song choice to get the crowd all pumped up. What I liked most about it was Jon (synths) and James (drums) actually played the beats alternately, which was not obvious if you’ve just listened to their record.
Of course, Sundream was the crowd favourite. Hearing the song played live was actually a better experience compared to the first time I heard the song. Tyrone himself told everyone that it was about late nights and fondue (aka sex), which was actually pretty obvious as its light, floaty synths and solid bass lines were very orgasmic.
They played many other hits like Tonight and Imaginary Air, which as expected, did not disappoint the crowd.
RÜFÜS closed their set with Desert Night. Most of their live videos uploaded on YouTube were of this song, and I was already anticipating the 7-minute version of it. The low-key synths and soft, almost-whispered vocals were able to give off the tropical house vibe they were aiming for. It made you feel like you were watching them play in a beach, circled around a bonfire while sipping a cold bottle of beer. As they hit the 5-minute mark of the song, the whole crowd already resembled a pulsating nightclub packed with sweaty people singing and dancing along to their electro-pop beats. To further pump up the crowd, Tyrone (vocals) did not even hesitate to smash his keyboards right in front crazy crowd.
Obviously, I was very impressed with the band’s performance as they were able to keep their authentic electro-vibe by playing as a full band. For me, they were one of the standouts of the festival. Their live footages online did not even do justice to how they actually are in real life. Each individual song was played impeccably, and their use of lights at critical moment truly brought more life to the set. They threw one damn good party, and I would not hesitate catching them live again.