THE BRIG and LIZZY JANE, “I Am”
“I Am” is the standout track by Russian producer The Brig and vocalist Lizzy Jane, culled from the Stratos Union Records 4-song compilation titled Voyager, which also features notable songs by Dr. Ozi and Kid Trevor, among others. “I Am” is one of two songs on the EP by The Brig, whose fun release “You Know” I wrote about in the Spring. This song tugs at the emotions of young dubstep fans who in their personal lives are trying to stand up who they are. Lizzy Jane’s vulnerable vocal is an everyday war-cry for those who need to yell ‘I Am Me‘. The futuristic production is complex and riddled with impressive effects that raise “I Am” well beyond the everyday grunge-and-grind of many dubstep releases.
CRYSTAL SKIES and LUMA, “Lullaby”
Crystal Skies continues to find a successful, pleasing balance of big synths, drops and melody in their new single “Lullaby”, which once again features the co-writing and vocal talents of the Nashville-based Luma. It’s a gorgeous, affecting song, awash in lots of synths that you probably won’t be able to wait to hear on big speakers with lasers flashing at a concert venue once they resume safely. In the meantime, crank up those stereo speakers to obtain the maximum effect of Luma’s soaring voice. “Lullaby” will not disappoint, even if it isn’t as hard core heavy dubstep as some of Crystal Skies’ previous songs. As a big bonus, all proceeds for purchase of the song go to the NAACP legal defense fund and Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB).
TRIVECTA, Everyday (EP)
After successful collaborations and tours with the likes of Seven Lions, Wooli and Excision, as well as well-received remixes for Illenium and Dabin which have garnered millions of streams, Tampa’s Trivecta (aka Sam Dobkin) helps refine and reshape dubstep and melodic bass in his new four song EP Everyday.
There are elements of both sub-genres present, but not as heavy on record as in concert, where I’m sure the songs will be amped up to please fans and showcase Trivecta’s fluid guitar work. Aside from the instrumental opener “The Feeling Of It All”, any of the songs in Everyday are well suited for big festival sets. “Leave It All Behind” (featuring vocal by co-writer Fagin) may not strike you immediately until its chorus, but draws you into its message deeper with each listen. “Wasteland” keeps you hanging on the edge with European-sounding intensity before its big emotional drop three quarters through. And the title song, quieter and more melodic than the rest thanks to vocal and songwriting assists by Rico & Miella, could find favour with fans of The Chainsmokers or Martin Garrix.
Everyday is a solid EP that will not only broaden Trivecta’s musical landscape, but will also bring newcomers further into the dubstep and melodic bass fold.
JAY BIRD and DNAKM, “Silent”
After a few online chats late last year, I’ve been very anxious to hear where California electronic producer Jay Bird (aka Jason Brown) was headed after a number of pop-flavoured dance releases over the past few years as he gradually nails down his own brand. “Silent” takes a positive turn for a heavier, dubstep-flavoured song with a set of bleaker lyrics than usual (“I don’t want show emotion / When I’m crying out I’m broken / Everyone in slow motion”) which Jay has co-written with singer DNAKM (Donna Kim). Having previously sung on Jay’s “Alive”, DNAKM provides the knowing vulnerability that cuts through the music and some bigger beats and synths than in the past. “Silent” definitely allows the music of Jay Bird to reach into a bigger audience within the electronic music genres, one that is there for the big synths and rhythms, but also for the songwriting.
KAI WACHI and DYLAN MATTHEW, “Run”
Idaho-based electronic producer Kai Wachi is someone you may have encountered either performing at a big festival or supporting Black Tiger Sex Machine on tour. His latest single, “Run”, mixes earnest sadness with aggressive release, culminating in a fierce synth breakdown at around the three-quarter mark. He co-wrote the song with singer Dylan Matthew, whose name you will associate with songs particularly by Slander, but he’s also worked with Seven Lions, Crystal Skies, and Dabin among others. “Run” is a pretty sad and angry breakup song that taps into a genuineness which the electronic dubstep genre of current artists seem to find inside a treasure trove of emotions for their fans. “Run” is also pretty accessible for those not looking for anything too heavy, but there’s still lots for long-time fans to enjoy as well.
BLACK TIGER SEX MACHINE x ATLiens, “Frequencies”
I’ve got to give Montreal’s BTSM and Atlanta’s ATLiens lots of credit for combining forces and releasing the highly creative “Frequencies”. You never lose interest in what’s happening within the song even from what sounds like an inauspicious start. It takes its time to build, and it’s well worth the wait getting through some nifty effects, beats and chanting before one of those essential head-banging drops kicks in. The rest of “Frequencies” is total progressive dubstep gravy, hardly making the song seem like it’s been 4:10 in length when it ends. This style of music is slightly outside of my wheelhouse so it’s guaranteed to please fans of both acts and dubstep/electronic dance wizardry.
DR. OZI, “Youth In Asia”
India-born, Toronto-based electronic producer Dr. Ozi will push your limits with “Youth In Asia”. It’s a colourful, herky-jerky track that will keep your attention and impress you with how deftly he moves between rhythms and styles, all in one song! It’s more apt to please folks who like their electronic dance music on the heavy side, with lots of familiar dubstep moments to ride along the way. It’s also incredibly melodic and detailed, so it’s no wonder he’s attracted attention from the likes of Zomboy (for whom he opened on a recent tour). “Youth In Asia” is a feast for your ears if you like your dance music on the progressive side and your electronic music riddled with all kinds of sounds.
CRYSTAL SKIES, Constellations (EP)
Although it’s been in the making for about the last five years, I think 2019 will be remembered as the year when heavier dubstep/EDM started focusing heavily on melodies that immediately draw in their audience. American electronic duo Crystal Skies (Aaron and Britian) are no exception to this and perhaps are leading the way with their recent EP Constellations. Crystal Skies wraps up the EP with “One More Night” which fools you into thinking it’s more on the quiet side, only to bring in some heart-accelerating vibes in the last 1:30 or so. The EP shifts gears with “On My Own” (featuring Satellite Empire) and particularly “Release Me” (with another vocal by Gallie Fisher). Both are much softer, with music that weaves around poignant lyrics. Fans of emotional bangers get treated at the end to “Feels Right” and “Never Change”, featuring amazing vocals by RUNN and Gallie Fisher respectively, who are both go-to’s in this sub-genre. But both voices sear through you and the big beats don’t disappoint. Constellations is a consistent effort that successfully blends music for your heart and your feet.
VINCENT and NADERI, “Wasted Time”
There is plenty of room for more progressive house sounds next to people like Illenium, ZHU, Dabin, Ekali and Said The Sky, and “Wasted Time” by Winnipeg’s Vincent and Sydney’s Naderi. It’s an inspired collaboration, with pristine production. Once upon a time, Vincent was known as XVII, and since then has remixed the likes of Bazzi and Alessia Cara, while steadily releasing original songs over the past few years. And you’ll remember that Naderi not only has numerous A-list remixes under his belt, but worked on the Grammy-winning Skin album by his countrymate Flume. The song sometimes stays in one place too long with emphasis on an ear-ringing, echoey vocal. But it more than makes the most of its 2:36 when it shifts gears and heads into some infectious dubstep territory. “Wasted Time” is quite an earful for the progressive-oriented and will throw down well in the midst of a heavier set of songs.
EXCISION, WOOLI, TRIVECTA and JULIANNE HOPE, “Oxygen”
Tampa, Florida electronic music producer Trivecta (aka Sam Dobkin) easily won over Toronto dubstep fans with his alternately hard hitting and melodic style at Revival Bar last night, where he opened for dubstep master Wooli. His set slammed super-hard at times – in anticipation of the headliner of course – but transitioned quite well and often into more melodic tones that he has been known for through some of his originals as well as his remixes. Trivecta, like many other producers in the genre these days, is also a musician, and whipped out his guitar a few times to the utter delight of the invested audience. Among the highlights in his set were a remixes of songs by “his buddy Gavin” Dabin with “Alive”, “Without You My Love” by Seven Lions, and the song that easily received the best crowd reaction, “Fractures” by another of his pals, Illenium (listen below). The club was also worked up when he played Above & Beyond’s “Sun & Moon”, and when he brought out his guitar again to his own “Break Me”. All in all, Trivecta was definitely pumped up by the audience’s warm embrace and it was an entertaining set.
Trivecta also is part of a new release on Excision and Wooli’s EP “Evolution”, which arrived yesterday. “Oxygen” is a heartwarming slice of emotional electronica that definitely plays to the style of Illenium’s recent Ascend album. Featuring a touching vocal by co-writer Julianne Hope, the song alternates dramatic synths with softer moments that will appeal to fans who enjoy Illenium’s “Crashing” and other similar songs. Check it out above.