I sent a friend Zhu’s Automatic yesterday. She seemed to like it.
It didn’t show the artist & title though, so she wanted to know who it was, but I thought why not keep it a mystery. That’s what Zhu would do. Hopefully she reads this post and gets her answer.
Automatic is the start to Zhu’s next project, Genesis Series. It’s just as mysterious as his first, but that whole no-persona persona seems like a gimmick compared to the sounds he’s creating. Automatic is a small progression from his earlier work, but it’s still a hit meant for mainstream. Or ideally for mass consumption. Just not as redefining as his first EP, Nightday.
Back to his sounds. The string work at the start and the deep toned piano three verses in were definitely a step up in sound. He makes sounds out of instruments with clarity I’ve never heard before. The high hat trap at the end was a nice touch, along with the sax solo, but that could have been hinted at towards the beginning. Would have tied it all together better.
AlunaGeorge’s vocals fit into Zhu’s sound almost better than Zhu himself, but his ghostly vocals make for a good backdrop to Aluna.
Wonder what other collaborations are in store for Zhu’s Genesis Series. I’m sure it’ll be top talent.
I need a good playlist for reflecting on. Especially when traveling long distances. Music that sounds like Toy Box’s Catahoula.
I know alotta people can’t stand a good kick drum when trying to relax, but I almost need it. There’s a lot of little things in Catahoula that doesn’t make it some basic electronic track. Something you should listen for, for the subtleties. The track has heart, texture. And those vocals chops, woof. Wonder where he got em.
The first time I ran into Madelyn Grant’s name was on Odesza’s Sun Models. I had recently uploaded the track to SoundCloud and she had contacted me about including her name in the title. The only reason I hadn’t in the first place was because they really chopped and skewed her vocals, making her voice barely recognizable. But she was real nice about it and it seemed more than fair.
About two months later and I see Madelyn Grant on FKJ’s Waiting. I didn’t remember she was on Odesza’s track at first, but once I did I was all the more in love. Madelyn has a breathtaking voice, but even better she knows how to use it – a much bigger problem with most vocalists.
Since then Madelyn has collaborated with a favorite of mine, Emancipator. I asked her how she got to collaborate with all these legitimate producers and she said, I sent them my demos.
That’s it. In Odesza’s case they were requesting female vocalists, but the other two she just sent them a sample. That’s all it took. How the fuck does that happen? Oh wait, that doesn’t. Minus with Madelyn.
I’ve put together a playlist of my favorite songs of her’s as well as another list for producers she should also send her music to. Although, this time I think they should be doing the reaching out.
When I first saw Bishiclet remixed Janet Jackson, I was like naaahh, he ain’t gonna top his Miguel remix or the other Janet remixes I collected. He did both. Well, this might not have the longevity of his Miguel remix, but we’ll see about that.
His So Excited remix was so unexpected. It’s so hard for any producer to be consistently good, let alone come up with something borderline trendsetting. What he did to Janet’s voice, pitchin em on high like that, is best described as sounding like Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord, except not having to deal with her rap Ninja.
The first night I had with this, I played it over & over at least a dozen times.
You know this guy can play guitar when he’s got me off my ass dancing better than any edm. Most music takes vocals for me to connect, but Josh J’s guitar talks wonders.
Just listen to Babble’s Sundazin for me, all the way through. That ending! Woof.
But he’s got much more than that. That’s what’s so amazing about him. Consistency. And he sets up his guitar well (he can produce).
We start this off by sampling some of the best styles in electro soul and go from the playful down to the more sedentary. There are a few songs that deal with heartbreak, but the sound is still right.
Have fun with your loved one with this one.
I never thought Toro y Moi’s side project, Les Sins, would ever top Grind, it was my 2013 groove, but this collaboration with Nate Salman is already there for 2014. Salman has that JT sound on lock, like JMSN & Josh Jakq, but with Toro y Moi and that makes all the difference.
Doja Cat wasn’t on our best of last year for the very same reason she will be this year. She’s always had a flow and a way with words, but now she’s teamed up with some legitimate producers to have it all.
I feel like Peter Rosenberg talking about Nicki Minaj, before their whole shit show, but Doja’s got the personality & style I haven’t seen in hip hop since I started this thing. I loved her original Nunchucks this time last year, but this new album has one that might top even that.
We were so close to putting Zhu at the top of our 2014 R&B list. And even though he didn’t make the cut, he did help us distinguish the difference between today’s R&B and electro soul.
Before, the most notable difference the two was whether it was vocal or producer based, respectively. Where as R&B is focused on the soulful voices of today, electro soul generally cuts & chops memorable voices from the past and blends in heavy electro influences. Zhu is really the perfect intersection between the two, but we eventually came to the conclusion that his deep house influence was more fit for electro soul than the more traditional R&B (“traditional” in loose terms).
Also, keep in mind that even the musicians featured here are still electronically influenced in some way. Most music is nowadays. However, they play much more of a balancing act than their counterparts in electro soul. Hear for yourself and let us know your thoughts on today’s soul music and how you define it.
I know I focus too much on chorus too much of the time, but Corinne Bailey Rae’s is damn near perfect in ‘Put Your Records On.’ It quite literally put me to tears. She’s as inspiring in words, for the most part, as she is in vocal zest and Nehzui’s remix gives it the extra oomph it deserves. His electro brass is a bit… brass but essential for the sing-a-long.