Kyle Loomis is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily music columnist.
October has come and gone, and some great new albums were released, especially in the electronic dance music (EDM) genre. In the same tradition as my other album reviews, I’ve rated some noteworthy recent EDM album releases I am excited about, on a scale of one to 10 (10 being the highest possible score). Check these out, turn up your subs and let your neighbors know you love EDM as much as I do!
Released Oct. 30 8.5
Fresh out of the studio on Oct. 30, Calvin Harris’ “18 Months” has already made lots of noise in the EDM community. With the release of this pop album, this Scottish-born artist continued his transformation from an indie electro-pop star into the progressive house producer/DJ who has been embraced by the mainstream — the album is already seventh on the iTunes album chart.
While electro-hipsters probably lament Calvin Harris following David Guetta and Afrojack into the popular music scene, I feel compelled to remain a fan. There are some tracks on “18 Months” worth listening to, and even some material underground ravers may enjoy.
Much of the album is made up of tracks festival goers and radio listeners are already familiar with — singles such as “Feel So Close,” “We Found Love” and “Awooga.” These tracks have been overplayed by dance club and radio DJs for months. Others are similar house/pop hybrids the same DJs will be playing for more than a few months to come.
Calvin Harris’ commercial success isn’t derived just from catchy synth hooks layered on top of a standard 128 beats-per-minute (bpm) rhythm. His niche has always been the strong vocal presence in his tracks. Not just his own impressive singing ability, but also vocals from artists that he collaborates with, and the diversity of these featured collaborators is what turns “18 Months” from a good album into a great one.
Singers Florence Welch, Ellie Goulding, Rihanna and rappers Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah are part of the crew that Calvin Harris presents in “18 Months.” It’s a clever method to develop a wider fan base and increase radio plays and single/album purchases, but if Calvin Harris follows the path of David Guetta, he risks losing the fans who fell in love with the artist who made the albums “I Created Disco” (2007) and “Ready for the Weekend” (2009).
Fortunately for those hipster fans, “18 Months” has a couple of alternative-sounding tracks that don’t quite fit the house/pop mold. The minimalist and chill-tech beats of “Mansions” and the dubstep-influenced collaboration with DJ/producer Nicky Romero called “Iron” are some notable tracks worth listening to.
Overall, the album is a pretty decent collection of electro and progressive house tracks that will get you and your friends dancing, so check it out.
“The Rules of Dada”
Released Oct. 16 9.0
So Much Dada
There aren’t many EDM artists who have become as popular as quickly as Dada Life has in the past couple years. On Oct. 16, the Swedish duo released its second studio album, “The Rules of Dada,” continuing its tradition of producing big-room house tracks with powerful bass.
Dada Life has created a particular image of themselves, characterized by energetic, on-stage antics typically involving bananas and champagne. The combination seems silly on paper, but works well in getting the audience absolutely pumped.
“The Rules of Dada” is not just the name of the duo’s album, but also a philosophy the duo regularly promotes on its Facebook and Twitter pages and is reflected in its music. “Arrive Beautiful Leave Ugly” is one such example of a track that promotes the duo’s philosophy. These so-called “rules” and Dada Life’s proficient use of social media for promotion are branding techniques that have successfully set the duo apart from the rest of the EDM scene, which is becoming more important in an industry that is rapidly growing in popularity.
Some other outstanding tracks on the album are the popular single “Kick Out the Epic Motherf**ker,” “Rolling Stone T-Shirt” and “Bass Don’t Cry.” All of Dada Life’s tracks hold to the same basic structure (synths and beats), but the Swedes are able to maintain a level of variety between them to keep the fans interested.
“Out of the Black”
Released Oct. 8 7.5
The October release I was anticipating the most was “Out of the Black” by German producer/DJ Boys Noize. There was a lot of Internet hype surrounding this release on Oct. 8 and, overall, I would say the artist’s third studio album falls somewhat short of its high expectations.
That’s not to say all of the tracks are not good — there are some amazing tunes on “Out of the Black.” Among these are “Reality” (which I mentioned in last week’s Polyphonic), “Stop,” “Conchord (feat. Siriusmo)” and “Got It (feat. Snoop Dogg).”
Interestingly, Boys Noize showed some diversity in his production with his collaboration with rappers Snoop Dogg and Gizzle (in “Circus Full of Clowns”). The latter track comes off a little flat and mundane, at least to Boys Noize fans who are used to the high-powered, sinister-sounding electro that has built the producer’s career thus far.
In spite of some of the less-than-impressive tracks on the album, the good of “Out of the Black” outweighs the bad. I recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of great electronic music that won’t be in the mainstream anytime soon.