Musical Discovery: ‘Silence’ by Marshmello feat. Khalid

We all remember when The Chainsmokers dominated the UK charts. Andrew Taggart’s mumbling and groaning vocals defined their style as DJs and meant that any other track by another artist with the same low vocals would be labelled repetitive or ‘samey’. It’s since been used by Frank Ocean (in Calvin Harris’ Slide) and OneRepublic (in Rich Love), but now the hit DJ Marshmello has offered his take on the more chilled side of dance with his track, Silence.

Every now and then, the masked musician (whom everyone has now assumed to be Chris ‘Dotcom’ Comstock despite no official confirmation) lurches back into the mainstream and moves away from the snappy trap and electronic vocals. The last track to do so was the 2016 single Ritual, which saw the singer Wrabel step up to the mic with high-pitched emotion. Now, Marshmello has done the complete opposite, adopting a slow tempo and low tone for his with release of the year.

This sudden shift could very well be part of what makes it distinctive, but there’s no denying that Khalid is the centre of attention on Silence. There’s a sense that Marshmello’s backed away this time around, sticking to soft piano chords, pulsing synth and plucky guitars which underlie the 19-year-old’s soulful lyrics.

Described by the American singer as being ‘a sad song… about being content with loneliness and turning it into a positive’, it makes sense that the vocals are raspy and the instrumental aspect of the track is stripped back. Lines such as ‘love only left me alone, but I’m at one with the silence‘ and ‘I found peace in your violence‘ demonstrate the reflective nature of Silence. It’s far from being a song for people to dance along to, but it’s certainly one for fans to wave their phones in the air for when the DJ gives it a spin during his August and September shows.

Silence is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube.

Musical Discovery: ‘Hometown (Radio Edit)’ by Jack Wins feat. Raphaella

There’s something liberating about being on the brink of making your debut as an artist. Yet to be defined by a single sound from a breakthrough single, DJs, bands and singers are free to experiment with different genres and styles before that one moment comes. For Jack Wins, previous releases ranged from poppy piano stab tracks such as Good Love to hazy synth and deep house vibes as heard in I Used to Love You. Now, with plenty of singles to his name and a brand new EP, Hometown is a wonderful mix of his past work.

Look no further than the introduction to the track – a series of haunting synth notes that hold a striking resemblance from Years and Years’ Shine that taps into the more mainstream side of the Dutch DJ’s style. Add in some light, soft vocals with a hint of soul from Raphaela and you have the typical low scene-setter to build up from.

As a drum beat grows in the background, it halts two lines before the end of the verse to create a smooth acapella with the vocals and a satisfying drop into the main melody of the song.

Cue the club vibes, with the common underlying bass notes mixed with high-pitched synth. As much as the song’s structure makes this sound euphoric, credit must also go to Raphaella, who is no longer constrained to the calmer side of her vocal range. Now, the bottled-up soul bursts out, merging perfectly with Jack’s constructed instrumentals.

If, surprisingly, this fails to get the crowd pumped or the bedroom listener excited, then the fact that the producer slips in a brief nod to tracks such as Good Love and Give it Up with sharp piano stabs should do the trick. After all, it’s an instrumental element included in tracks by artists such as Blonde and Sigala that have smashed the UK charts.

Yet, with a timecode of 2:40, there can be a sense of disappointment that comes with the end of the song. In amongst all the excitement packed into such a short duration, it’s easy to abandon that sense of structure we look out for in songs (with most songs, we know when it’s the final verse). With smooth transitions from verse to chorus, it certainly doesn’t feel like two minutes, but time flies when there’s good music playing, and there’s always the longer full house mix to listen to.

Musical Discovery: ‘Rich Love’ by One Republic with Seeb

It was only a matter of time before OneRepublic returned with another summer smash. Before the rise of trap and tropical house, the pop-rock five-piece joined forces with Alesso to create the club track, If I Lose Myself. Now, the band hook up with hit remixers Seeb for the upbeat and exotic bop, Rich Love.

Two years since their number one remix of Mike Posner’s I Took a Pill in Ibiza, the trio (formed of Simen Matre Eriksrud, Espen Berg and Niklas Strandbråten) have secured what can be described as their most high profile collaboration yet. By working with the group behind Counting Stars, Rich Love is more than likely to be the next single to propel the DJs into the spotlight once more.

It’s a combination of catchy lyrics and a fluid melody which really sells the track. Lines such as broke as a bottle of a wine stand out amongst fast-flowing vocals. Then comes a tune typical of Seeb (bouncy, trickling and with some hazy synth in the background) which offers a new style of anthemic pop for OneRepublic to play across their summer tour.
Rich Love is available now on iTunes and Spotify.

Musical Rediscovery: ‘Play the Game Boy’ by A*M*E

It was in 2013 that we first heard A*M*E (real name Aminata Kabba) on the No.1 club hit by Duke Dumont, Need U (100%). Her latest appearance was on the track My Love 4 U with Marc Kinchen, but in terms of standalone singles, the 22-year-old singer made her debut with the heavy pop single, Play the Game Boy in 2012.

It’s a track which plays on the theme of gaming throughout, from the album cover showing Kabba in a toy box, to the arcade synth undertones. As the music video starts, Korean text appears in what is no doubt a nod at the artist’s music being influenced by K-pop (as A*M*E references in this interview with Digital Spy). On the whole, whether it’s the K-pop style which will give you flashbacks to PSY’s Gangnam Style, or the video game feel to the track which will remind you of the last time you played Super Mario Bros. 3, it’s certainly a single full of nostalgia.

If that wasn’t enough, the repetitive nature of the lyrics and melodies in both the chorus and verses does a good job of making the track as catchy as possible. This, combined with sassy but soulful lyrics, forms a well-rounded single bursting with creativity and groovy pop vibes. It’s the perfect reminder of what the popular music genre used to be.

So with a few successful collaborations under her belt, what’s next for A*M*E? Last week, she posted on Twitter that it will ‘take another year to finish [her album] properly’, but that ‘there will be singles’ as well. Whilst hit releases with the likes of Duke Dumont and MK leave her name lingering in the minds of music lovers, a debut album in the future will remind them of the singer’s bubbly K-pop style.

Musical Discovery: ‘Summer on You’ by Sam Feldt x Lucas & Steve feat. Wulf (Club Edit)

A lot of songs have taken their time to grow on me lately. Whether that’s because the song isn’t something I’d usually listen to, or because I’m not in the mood for new music, it’s only after the third listen (or more) that a track starts to finally grow on me. Summer On You feat. Wulf, is one of these songs, and is this week’s Musical Discovery.

On the first few listens, I fell in love with the fuzzy synth melody, but the forgettable lyrics were enough to stop me from having this track on repeat for weeks and weeks. It was only after a few more listens that I realised that Wulf’s soft vocals create a nice juxtaposition between these verses and the loud, pulsing chorus. However, that being said, the chorus still dominates the song, with Wulf’s voice being an unimportant interlude between drops.

Most of us will remember Sam Feldt as being the DJ behind a chilled remix of Robin S’ dance classic, Show Me Love. In Summer on You, we still see this chilled style apparent in the vocals and the opening guitar strum, but for most of the song we see a different track from Feldt. In the dance/club genre at the moment, we’ve seen many tropical synth melodies, but this fuzzy tune really does stand out.

What do you think of Summer on You? Have you heard of Sam Feldt and his remix of the Robin S classic, Show Me Love? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Don’t Need No Money’ by Imani Williams feat. Sigala & Blonde

Don’t Need No Money is the second collaboration involving Imani Williams and Sigala, and it’s definitely better than the first. Say You Do (feat. Imani & DJ Fresh) started with a tropical synth melody before quickly descending into a typical drum-and-bass track. Instead of the single fusing both of the DJ’s traditions, Say You Do was dominated by a fast-paced, driving drum beat, which is something you don’t hear on a song by Sigala. This time round, the Sweet Lovin’ DJ was wise to collaborate with house duo Blonde, who share a similar style to him. The result – Don’t Need No Money – is a wonderful blend of deep house and vibrant piano stabs, and adds to a long list of successful hits produced by Sigala.

Of course, I’m not saying that every single collaboration between two artists should be an equal, 50/50 split in terms of the song’s structure, but this track definitely does that. From the beginning, we hear Sigala’s pronounced synth chords, which continue straight into the chorus. Then, as the song progresses into the second verse, we hear Blonde’s deep house synth melodies. Whilst listeners would expect the transition from the first verse to the second to be a little awkward, the quick change in styles actually works and it’s great that both Sigala and Blonde’s ideas for the track can fit the same template.

This is especially the case in the chorus, where we hear the vibrant synth chords with deep house undertones just before a verse where Imani can showcase her vocal talents. In terms of the lyrics, they are catchy and positive – like the instrumental aspect of this song. However, the only disadvantage to the single is the bridge: “Now I’m talking about diamonds in your eyes/I’m thinking about loving you for life/There’s something about you/That got me feeling like“, which does feel a little rushed and abrupt. If these lyrics were repeated, then the progression into the chorus would have been more smooth, in my opinion.

However, on the whole, Don’t Need No Money is another euphoric single by Sigala at a time where a lot of fans – myself included – are anticipating the DJ’s debut album. With plenty of singles under his belt already, the sound of his first album is definitely sounding promising.

What do you think of Don’t Need No Money? Is it better than Say You Do? What do you think of Sigala’s music? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Give Me Your Love’ by Sigala feat. John Newman and Nile Rodgers

After Say You Do (feat. Imani & DJ Fresh) was more DJ Fresh’s brand of drum and bass than Sigala’s brand of dance music, it’s great to see a new collaboration which sees the DJ return to basics. Give Me Your Love is another single filled with vibrant piano stabs, but this time it’s also with funky guitar strums and catchy vocals from John Newman.

We’ve already seen John Newman’s unique soul work wonders on both electronic and drum and bass tracks. Rudimental’s Feel the Love and Not Giving In were huge hits when they were released – as was Newman’s collaboration with Calvin Harris on a more hardcore dance track, Blame. Now, the Love Me Again singer is lending his vocals to a more funky style of house and with Nile Rodgers chipping in too, you can tell this song is going to be huge when it’s released in June.

On the whole, Give Me Your Love is a move in a positive direction for Sigala. The DJ is back to uplifting piano stabs which made me love his style of music in the first place, and in terms of his videos which accompany the singles, it’s great to see more dancing. As mentioned above, Say You Do felt out-of-place in terms of it being a bizarre mix of tropical house and drum and bass. The lack of dancing in the song’s music video also made his previous release fall flat in my opinion. Now, it’s great to see Sigala’s got his unique style back.

What do you think of Give Me Your Love? Did you like Say You Do? Comment below!

Liam