#NewMusicFriday: ‘Drink About’ by Seeb feat. Dagny

It’s been nearly three years since the Norwegian DJ trio Seeb shot into the spotlight with their hit remix of I Took A Pill in Ibiza. What followed was a string of collaborations on remixes and original tracks – the group working with the likes of One Republic and Ocean Park Standoff – before last month, the hitmakers finally announced the launch of their debut EP.

Nice to Meet You is out on 20 April, but today saw the release of the first single from the record – Drink About, featuring fellow Norwegian, Dagny.

Once again, Seeb’s traditional, bouncy synths shine through underneath a steady rhythm – a style which has sadly become a bit too repetitive after a lengthy back catalogue from the group, yet still strikes a unique tone with calming piano chords in the verses which make Drink About a more laid-back release.

Although the instrumental backdrop to the track may appear all too familiar, it’s usually the vocal structure of the song which tends to deliver the fresh sound. In this case, Dagny – another artist close to their big music breakthrough.

Like Paloma Faith but without the slight raspiness, the 27-year-old experiments with the flow of lyrics in a playful manner, moving seamlessly between controlled, soft vocals and smooth high notes on this anti-love song.

Packed full of the typical characteristics of a Seeb hit, Drink About easily falls into the uniform structure of the Norwegian group’s previous works, yet somehow also generates a calmer pace unlike remixes such as Lost Boys and Rich Love.

If the lead single is ever demonstrative of the full picture of an EP, then there’s a chance we could see more relaxed tones in addition to club hits when Nice To Meet You is out in two weeks’ time.

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Musical Discovery: ‘Where’d U Go’ by Illenium & Said the Sky

It’s quite hard trying to pinpoint when exactly I stumbled across Illenium. In most instances, it’s YouTube channels like MrSuicideSheep and Proximity to whom I owe my thanks for discovering up-and-coming dance artists. Yet, on this occasion, it may have been an announced collaboration by Mako which led to me listening to Illenium’s track with Said the Sky, Where’d U Go.

With no vocals (save for the song title itself), the track is completely instrumental, broken down into the main, stuttering melody and softer, atmospheric backing chords. In the space of just over three minutes, Where’d U Go flits between quieter breaks with subtle drum-and-bass into euphoric, hazy drops.

Interestingly, there’s not always just the main melody to focus on. In the opening, fluttering piano chords are played underneath jittery synth, whilst in the choruses, multiple tunes combine with a steady drum beat to create a busy but vibrant hook of euphoric proportions.

On YouTube, listeners were quick to compare the track to Divinity by the US DJ Porter Robinson. Whilst the stumbling synth is common on both songs, Illenium’s track builds an ethereal tone through loud melodies, as opposed to Robinson’s (primarily) delicate sound in Divinity.

REVIEW: ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ by The Wombats

The Wombats have certainly made some changes since their last album in 2015. Whilst the edgy album titles remain (this one being Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life), the rock trio from Liverpool certainly succeeded in making an album which doesn’t “[punch] you in the face every time you listen to it” – pursuing a much more laid-back sound this time around.

Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life sees The Wombat pursue a more laid-back sound, whilst maintaining the traditional and powerful kick from previous works. Photo: The Wombats.

Although, that is not to say that the band have completely ditched the rockier vibes heard on previous tracks like Moving to New York and Let’s Dance to Joy Division. They’re still present on the album – albeit in a slightly new and different (but interesting) way…

Take the opener, Cheetah Tongue, which slowly eases listeners into Beautiful People… with a gritty underlying guitar riff before dropping a loud, punchy drum beat. It’s stripped-back, yet still has that Wombats kick to it we’ve felt before.

That doesn’t stop with the following song, Lemon To A Knife Fight. As the lead single from the album, the group knew it had to offer a glimpse into what the ten-track record had in store. With anthemic vocals in the chorus on top of casual instrumentals, it perfectly balances the driving rock of the old with the chilled vibes of the new. It’s certainly the stand-out track from the album, so if you have to listen to one song from Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, make it this one.

Then follows the third and final single from the album, Turn – a track with retreating guitar and drums that make it a song focussing more on Matthew Murphy’s vocals than an all-round dance hit. It strikes that perfect balance between full-on rock and a slower, phones-in-the-air type track – an interesting in-between.

Yet, it’s not just the singles where we see such a balance between slower and faster vibes. Over the course of the next seven tracks, we either see the punch come from pulsing drums and guitar (Black FlamingoDip You in Honey and Lethal Combination), or from Murph’s loud lyrics (Out of My Head). Such a switch between the two keeps each track fresh as we progress towards the end of the album.

With that being said, the change-up in style is apparent when one considers the tempo of the tracks. Far from the pace of A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, their latest release, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life plays with a more relaxed rhythm – some tracks hiding the change with colourful beats and melodies, others placing emphasis on it to create a calmer feel.

This leads us to the final track, I Don’t Know Why I Like You but I Do – a track which, for the most part, is in clear contrast to the first three. A simplistic drum beat (with the odd bit of flair here and there) and smooth guitar melodies slow things down for Murph, before a gritty guitar interlude refreshes the feel and makes it a perfect showcase of the two sides of the album.

A refreshing change of style is always a risky, tough and lengthy process for any band to deliver, but with Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, The Wombats return to turn things down a notch, whilst maintaining the traditional groove fans know and love.

Rating: 4/5

Musical Discovery: ‘FRIENDS’ by Marshmello & Anne-Marie

It’s only three days until the love-fest that is Valentine’s Day, and rather than releasing the typical love song, Marshmello and his latest featured artist Anne-Marie wanted to go down the more anti-romance route with their single, FRIENDS.

Described in the title for the lyric video on YouTube as being the ‘official friendzone anthem’, Anne-Marie’s smooth vocals give the perfect sassy edge to this track for heartbreakers in a style where you can almost sense the smug grin on her face as she sings the lyrics in the recording booth.

Such a vibe isn’t only given off by Anne-Marie, as Marshmello dabbles in a bit of deception. A fluttering and catchy guitar melody creates an intimate, contrasting tone to that of Anne-Marie’s, right before dropping into a dirty trap beat. FRIENDS is a beautiful anti-climax – both instrumentally and vocally – which continues Marshmello’s mellow sound in a fresh, interesting and unexpected way.

Musical Discovery: ‘Lost Boys’ by Ocean Park Standoff vs. Seeb

Hit remixers Seeb seem to have a knack for shining a spotlight on underrated musicians.

The Norwegian trio somewhat revived the career of Cooler Than Me singer Mike Posner with their version of I Took A Pill in Ibiza. Now, in their latest collaboration, they place some attention on Ocean Park Standoff as they present their twist on their track, Lost Boys.

With the original chorus having a slower beat and more atmospheric feel to it, it’s Seeb that give the track the traditional spring in its step through bouncy, off-beat synth mixing in-between a driving rhythm. Such a motif across the DJs’ portfolio may make listeners wonder what sets each song from their backlog apart. Yet, it’s always the melody which accompanies the jumpy vibe which makes every new Seeb remix exciting. In this case, three pronounced electronic notes is a small touch that makes this remix all the more catchy.

Not only that, but the initial chorus serves as an anthemic build-up to the trio’s euphoric drop – the progression to which is pretty much seamless. The track starts a tad clumsy with the opening chorus cut short, but it’s stripped-back introduction which is quickly emboldened by bolder drums in the bridge. There’s no denying that – at the start of each evrse – the track maintains the laid-back style and vocal emphasis of the original. Singer Ethan Thompson’s sound (which sounds very similar to Too Close artist Alex Clare) remains soulful and powerful throughout.

Packed with a strong, kicking tempo and a colourful interlude, Seeb’s remix of Lost Boys presents Ocean Park Standoff fans with a fast-paced club alternative to a track they know and love. It’s upbeat and vibrant, whilst not overshadowing the original version in the slightest. Just how remixes should be.

Musical Discovery: ‘Breathe’ by Mako

It’s Christmas Day (Merry Christmas, by the way), but for today’s post, we’re putting that aside. With this being the last Musical Discovery of 2017, I wanted to review a track by an artist which would take me all the way back to the start of this year – a ‘full circle’ of sorts, if you will.

It was the middle of January. I was in Bristol on work experience, loving the placement and loving the new city I happened to find myself in. Early morning walks to BBC Bristol and late night journeys back to the house I was staying at were soundtracked by Mako’s debut album, Hourglass – particularly the track, Run for Your Life (feat. Rat City and Natalola).

So now that they’ve released a new single earlier this month, called Breathe, it makes sense for me to review it.

As those who have listened to Hourglass will know, Mako’s style can easily be split into synth-heavy tracks and the more stripped-back songs. If one were to compare Breathe with the American DJs’ back catalogue, then the similarities to Smoke Filled Room and Our Story are certainly apparent as the single adopts a calmer tone.

An all too familiar chord progression on the guitar opens up the track, before Alex Seaver’s equally soft vocals are introduced. With lyrics in the verses that fluctuate in pace, the listener’s attention is caught before things are truly slowed down for the chorus. Harmonised backing vocals float above a gentle rhythm in a break which restores a tempo to the track (drums are absent in the first verse) and help create a relaxing feel. In that regard, Breathe lives up to its name.

Putting the song’s structure to one side, if one was to consider the fact that this is a solo single from Alex, and that group member Logan Light announced his absence ‘from the majority of [Mako’s] 2017 shows’, then Light’s absence can be felt somewhat when listening to Breathe.

Whilst, as mentioned previously, it fits nicely amongst tracks such as Smoke Filled Room, it lacks that slight synth feel which Logan tends to bring to songs as ‘the DJ of the group’. Nevertheless, with Breathe possessing many of Mako’s musical characteristics, Alex’s solo single does a great job of carrying the group’s baton whilst Light takes a step back.

New music from Mako is certainly very promising, and here’s hoping more is on the way (hopefully with Logan’s involvement) come 2018…

 

Musical Discovery: ‘Wait’ by Martin Jensen feat. Loote

Martin Jensen finds inspiration in the most unlikely of places. Squeaky toys, Minions and Cristiano Ronaldo have all made an appearance in the Danish DJ’s previous work. Now, hot off the release of his hit single Solo Dance and a collaboration with The Vamps, it makes sense that the next thing to lend their voice to one of his songs is his ever-growing fanbase.

Mid-July: Jensen puts out the call for submissions to his 2.5 million Facebook followers. It was no surprise that the DJ received plenty of vocals to play with; the platform is home to his many viral remixes of popular online videos. With so many contributors, it was understandable that Martin tried to include as many people as possible in the final track with Loote, called Wait.

Yet, upon listening to the track, it’s hard to detect the contribution from Jensen’s fans. A post on his Facebook page appears to show the vocals being added to the chorus, yet it all feels lost underneath Loote’s singing. Although, that is to be expected and nevertheless, it sure looked like a fun project for fans to be a part of.

Wait is a song about a relationship complete with its highs and lows. A romance which fluctuates just as much as the tropical synth that flows through the song. The lyrics – sung by the American duo Loote – also come with different rhythms that playfully merge with the instrumentals. Once again, Jensen maintains his unique style of vibrant, exotic house.

As much a marketing project as it was a follow-up single, Wait is an impressive attempt by Jensen to build on the success of Solo Dance and expand his growing audience.