EP II by Yumi Zouma

Ever since the New Zealand trio released their single “Alena” back in 2014, I’ve been impatiently anticipating for their EP II, soon to be released under Cascine, a Brooklyn-based label specializing in exquisite sounds.

Thanks to Hype Machine’s exclusive album premiere, I was finally able to taste the first full scoop of it. Although divided in three different cities–Paris, New York, and New Zealand–the three friends successfully produced this polished 80’s soft funk piece, passing back and forth the demos via DropBox, across the borders. The separation between the members explains so much of its “we don’t know where we are or who we are but we are having a good time. We are loving it, and we don’t care” vibes.

Here’s a music video of “Catastrophe,” from EP II.

The groovy beats are shadowed over by cloudy synths and hazy vocals, creating a nostalgic flashback to when nothing really mattered–when responsibilities could easily be forgotten. The trio reminisces the memories of living in the same house together in Christchurch, New Zealand, as the female voices join the harmony of breezy dream-pop melodies and a carefree attitude in the lyrics. Touring with Lorde (ya, ya, ya) in New Zealand in 2014, the band gained popularity and now has been reviewed by several blogs and magazines, showered with positive feedback. With the second EP about to be released, I expect to see the media going even more nuts about these joyful sounds.

My favorite track off EP II is “Dodi.” The refreshingly gentle electric guitar picking beginning of the song really gets me prepared for the whole “Yumi Zouma Experience”: a creation of the nostalgic orb that swallows me as a whole. It makes me feel young; it makes me feel hopeful. This is the kind of music that touches my heart’s soft spot.

You can stream Yumi Zouma’s premiere EP II all this week exclusively on Hype Machine.

Check out Yumi Zouma’s tour dates and discography on their office website.

-Stacy

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Slow Magic – How to Run Away

With his second full-length album How to Run Away, Slow Magic has overjoyed me with the pleasure of smooth melodies and skipping beats that just flow together to slowly ooze magic into my ears. The more I listen to the tracks on this new album, the more I praise it for being an incredibly well-done piece of art. He employs a lot of vocal samples but manages to tone them down just the right amount by layering them with ambient sounds and unique textures that create a beautiful harmony. He’s definitely one of the more promising DJs that are up-coming in the electronic music scene.

What else is unique about this dude? Well, honestly, I couldn’t tell ya. He shares little to no information about his identity meanwhile hiding behind a mask at all performances and musical appearances on the internet. I don’t have a problem with that, though. I actually think that his multi-colored, glowing fox mask works for him. It adds a colorful visual imagery that always pops up in my head every time his music plays.

Check out my favorite track, Girls.

I love bits and pieces of the piano and percussion sounds throughout the entire piece. Usually, an excessive repetition in a song bores/annoys me but this mysteriously talented dude really works it in with the genius cuts of the vocal samples.

Waited 4 U is a close tie with my first choice. Sometimes this replaces Girls and becomes my favorite, depending on my mood. So smooth, so flowy, so precisely mastered, and yet still pumpin’ dancey.

Which one is your favorite?

-Stacy

Caribou – Our Love

Caribou’s newest album “Our Love” comes out with a celebration of a varied plethora of influences, emotions, feelings and sounds. The sixth studio album by the multi-talented Canadian who pays his taxes under the name Dan Snaith has been hyped up for many weeks now coupled by a leak which just made the official release more anticipated. “Our Love” is delightfully fantastic. It teases you along with a wonderful and changing mix of emotional synths, trickling drums (that are at times quite fierce) and the very Caribou-esque wispy vocals. Despite the polished sound, it does have an underlying vibe of bedroom/garage production. But the whole thing is a lot dancier, “fuller” and more beat-orientated than what you’d expect from Caribou.

According to an interview with Noisey, Snaith claims the inspiration for the album title and the album itself centers around the success of his last album “Swim” and the warm connections he’s built from that success.

“And so the primary impulse on this record was to make something that was generous in the sense that it was for everybody, not just for me locked in a studio by myself. It’s about making some kind of connection, thinking about all the people that have made my life wonderful the last few years by investing my music.” – Dan Snaith of Caribou w/Noisey

The result is a lot of fun, ranging from shoegaze to pop to techno to deep house. On it you will feel the need to dance, or to relax. You will feel alone, feel warm, feel loved, feel inquisitive, feel at home, or feel adventurous. It swings between complex and simple, much like a relationship, be it with a person, idea, or experience. It’s become one of my most loved records if just because many others wrongfully dismiss it so soon when comparing it to “Swim.” It’s worth your time, and like love or those you look to depend upon, chances are it will grow on you and all will be well.

BANKS’ Debut Album “Goddess”

It’s been a little while since BANKS released her debut album Goddess. Although she’s been making music for a long time, she didn’t get recognized until her first single “Before I Ever Met You” came out through the label Good Years Recordings. From then on, she’s been acclaimed by multiple media outlets for beautifully capturing the sadness in her songs with her husky yet soulful voice.

Goddess is a depressing album. It has a dark melody with subtle beats that can almost drag you down emotionally. Her music is heavily influenced by the indie-pop trend based on her quick fame that started just about a year ago. I can see her rising further up in the pop music scene and gaining general popularity like FKA Twigs or Lykke Li.

BANKS’ earlier yet recent experience with fame and professional connections clearly contribute to the complete sound of her first debut album. On the other hand, her lyrics are far from brilliant. Although she hints careful optimism, she does so in the most predictable words and expressions in her songs like Goddess.

I’ve been loving and enjoying Goddess for the past month. But to tell you the truth, I feel the end coming to my obsession over BANKS soon…just like how I did with FKA Twigs and Lykke Li.

Here is my favorite track off Goddess: “Warm Water.”

Check out her live performance, and watch how she manages to keep it elegant and hot at the same time.

-Stacy

Freddie Gibbs/Madlib — “Real”

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“Real”, an immediate highlight off the long-awaited and excellent Freddie Gibbs/Madlib collaboration (cocaine) Piñata, is a track that should remind hip hop fans of around a decade ago when Clipse had a fire lit under them after it took Jive four years to release their masterpiece Hell Hath No Fury. Gibbs infamously split from Young Jeezy’s CTE label in 2012 after only a year and obviously things weren’t left on good terms. It still isn’t totally clear what caused the separation, but it’s easy to infer based on Freddie Gibbs’ lack of overall commercial appeal. Just like when Clipse split from Jive for the same reasons, Freddie Gibbs’ poor experience with big-label music has only led to more quality subject matter.

Freddie Gibbs is so likable because he’s spent his career flexing a lot of diversity in the production department. The strictly gangster rapper never moves very far from his Midwest-boxframe Cadillac formula, and while it’s true he’s most comfortable in the chopped and screwed trap lane, he’s worked with plenty of different types of producers. See the Statik Selektah collab if you wanna hear what I’m talking about, but this Madlib project demonstrates this to the furthest extreme. Madlib is at the very least, not the guy you would think of to lay the gangsta blueprint. But again, it works because Gibbs has a hell of a lot of skill and what’s so cool about “Real” is we’re seeing him detail some pretty specific ideas.

The first verse is vintage Gibbs, and it establishes Freddie’s credibility as someone who “niggas heard of, and now all the sudden they back to thuggin” over fast-pased and buzzing Madlib production. The beat changes a minute in, and the bpm slows down so we can pay closer attention to Freddie’s story with Jeezy. He’s pissed at someone he once looked up to, and threatens to “expose you to those that don’t know you”. Rick Ross said that he’s “scared to drop a diss record” and Gibbs take a dozen or so shots at Young Jeezy’s character. In the end, Freddie Gibbs loses nothing and it’s Jeezy in fact that lost a “rare breed” and he’ll never again find “a bad guy like this that don’t produce nothing but evil seeds.”

Stream “Real” below.

http://www.audiomack.com/song/dj-arabmixtapes/real

 – Daniel 

Odesza – Sun Models ft. Madelyn Grant

The Seattle duo Odesza has again released an awesomely funky, groovy, and all around fun track.  Sticking pretty close to their typical style, Sun Models will no doubt make you bob your head.  The chopped and screwed vocal samples from Madelyn Grant help add a fun happy vibe to the track.  Definitely worth a listen or two, or three… or four…

 

Mt. Royal – Mt. Royal EP

Mt. Royal is a relatively new group based out of Baltimore led by Celebration frontman Katrina Ford.   Much like Celebration, Mt. Royal touts swaying, soulful grooves, yet manages to find its own voice by breaking away from Celebration’s roots in psychedelia.  Their latest EP, candidly titled Mt. Royal EP saturates the listener with rich melodies and intoxicating rhythms.  Upon listening to first track on the EP, one can quickly draw parallels to heavy-hitters like Beach House or Foxygen (who I love), though Mr. Royal is still able to bring something unique to the table to avoid being redundant.  Ford’s powerful range of vocal expression coupled with the ardent instrumentation from the rest of the band makes Mt. Royal EP a fun and stimulating listen.   Give it a go on the player below.

-Denali