> album title goes here < – deadmau5 (2012)

Album artwork for > album title goes here

Album artwork for > album title goes here <

Even though I have already been working on my next post for several days now, I felt compelled to put it on hold in light of today’s significance.  That’s right, today marks the release of deadmau5‘s sixth studio album, > album title goes here <.  As one of the most well-known electronic music producers today, in a way he has become the representation of modern house music for many people.  Although it may seem like a lot of pressure, Joel Zimmerman (the man behind the mau5head) has never been one to submit to outside opinions and criticism.  With the eruption of countless young EDM producers trying to make a name for themselves, the industry has become somewhat overloaded by unoriginal tracks from DJs who are only looking to party.  While partying is certainly one of the best things to do while listening to electronic music, it does not go unnoticed when an artist puts a significant amount of time and effort into their music, sculpting it to meet their exact creative vision.  This is the impression that I get from all of deadmau5’s music, and the new album is certainly no exception.

The first time I listened to > album title goes here < in its entirety was this morning at approximately 2 AM.  It was easily the best decision I could have made in my somewhat-conscious state (because let’s face it, nothing productive ever happens after two o’clock in the morning).  The album was the perfect soundtrack for the quiet serenity of deep night. Not to say it wouldn’t be great at any other time of day, of course.  Having listened to all of deadmau5’s previous releases, I would have to say that as a complete package, this newest release could very well be my favorite of them all.  His sound remains consistent enough to establish a sense of familiarity, yet at the same time there are many new avenues that he explores musically.  This is a release that will appeal to ravers and easy listeners alike.

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The Great Escape – Seventh Wonder (2010)

Album artwork for The Great Escape

They say all of the best progressive metal bands come from Sweden.  It must be something in that Viking ale of theirs that makes them grow manly beards and write ballsy metal songs.  Despite how it happens, we are nonetheless thankful for the gifts they bestow upon the music community today.  A band like Seventh Wonder confirms this with their latest and greatest studio album, The Great Escape. The group has recently been drawn into the spotlight with the announcement that Tommy Karevik, Seventh Wonder’s frontman, had officially joined symphonic metal band Kamelot as their new lead singer.  He has been touring with them extensively in the past couple of months, and is featured on the band’s upcoming studio release, Silverthorn, which will hit the shelves in late October.  Karevik has stated that he has no intention of leaving Seventh Wonder, however, which comes as a relief to fans who, like me, are eager to hear anything new that follows in the wake of the magnificence that is The Great Escape.

The Great Escape became my favorite progressive metal album for quite a while this past year.  The songwriting on the album is simply extraordinary.  Each track is a masterful arrangement of precisely composed progressive mini-odysseys and undeniably catchy chorus sections that hold it all together, and they do it all without the slightest indication that they are willing to compromise a single drop of their creative potential.  This album has been stretched out to its full capacity; The Great Escape is the complete package.  The first six tracks build the strong foundations of an outstanding prog metal album, which is then completed with its own magnum opus – a thirty-minute epic closing track that embarks on an incredible musical journey and showcases the true extent of the band’s creativity.

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Night Visions – Imagine Dragons (2012)

Album artwork for Night Visions

Album artwork for Night Visions

If there was ever an album to be played on warm summer nights, it would be this one – Night Visions, the first studio album release from indie rock group Imagine Dragons. All of their music accomplishes the same, admirable goal: to spread good vibes through songs.  In this area, they are truly masters of their craft.  There is a certain grassroots appeal to the band; their music is simple yet effective.  Although the compositions themselves may seem easy enough, the way in which they are orchestrated adds a whole new layer of color to the overall mural.  With a rich blend of garage band instrumentation, electronica embellishments, and euphoric vocal melodies, Imagine Dragons has put forth one of the most definitively lighthearted and carefree indie rock releases this year.

Following in the path of groups like Passion Pit, Imagine Dragons has tapped into the tremendous audience of youths around the world that are seeking fun, cheerful melodies with an electronic influence.  For me, a key element that distinguishes them them from their contemporaries is the main vocalist, Dan Reynolds.  His voice is a welcome change from the typical sort of breathy, casual tone that usually appears in indie bands.  In the case of Reynolds, the main vocals come across as extremely strong and confident.  I can imagine them being placed on top of a heavy rock track and still coming across strong.  This effect is emphasized on a track like “Bleeding Out,” where he soars above the song’s catchy progression, easily switching between his chest voice and falsetto range.

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Mad Liberation – GRiZ (2012)

Album artwork for Mad Liberation

Album artwork for Mad Liberation

GRiZ released his debut album, Mad Liberation, less than a week ago, but it’s already making huge waves in the electronica community.  In lieu of joining the horde of current EDM artists releasing fairly straightforward house music day after day, GRiZ has taken a more alternative approach to creating his unique brand of electronica.  He has combined the heavy sub-bass tendencies of modern dubstep with a medley of other styles, including jazz, funk, and hip hop.  The 21-year-old producer describes his music as “electro soul” and “future funk,” titles which, upon listening to Mad Liberation, seem to be quite accurate.

I would first like to quote GRiZ’s own description of the album, as there is certainly no individual more qualified to address it than he:

This collection of noise – to me – became an album, a sound in a whole, an idea free from limits of thought and more an idea of the heart and soul. Mad Liberation is a piece of me that is representative of my past, breathes life into my present, and is a taste of the future.

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The Calling – Romain Collin (2012)

Album artwork for The Calling

Album artwork for The Calling

Originally from France, he came to the United States to attend the Berklee College of Music on scholarship, where he majored in Music Synthesis and studied piano performance.  He graduated from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz after having performed on a full scholarship in an ensemble handpicked by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Terence Blanchard.  I could keep going through Romain Collin‘s impressive list of achievements, but it’s probably better to just let his music speak for itself.  After his promising 2008 debut, The Rise and Fall of Pipokuhn, Collin is back with The Calling, a deeply personal album and perhaps his most creative effort yet.

Collin enlisted the musical talents of Luques Curtis on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums to round off the piano trio.  It is obvious right from the start that the trio has tremendous chemistry.  The musical interplay between instruments is absolutely phenomenal, with each part seeming to have a mind of its own. Rather than this resulting in chaos, however, it results in the masterful collaboration between three individuals who are completely in tune with the music they are creating.

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