DJ Earl & Nick Hook: '50 Backwoods'

50 Backwoods is more than just a title, it's a glimpse at what it took to make this record.  Nick Hook and DJ Earl joined forces in Hook's Brooklyn studio to craft a record that simply couldn't happen any other way.  The influence of the late DJ Rashad is felt throughout the world of music, but this record is one that lives and breathes that vibrant, energetic sound.  Completed in the span of a week, this dedicated duo gives to the world an album of limitless positive energy.

The album opens with 'Calculate', and immediately it's clear this album is something special.  It's opening message is one of presence.  It's quite evident that Nick and Earl employed this technique in making the album, but they are also inviting their listeners to be present.  This idea goes beyond just the experience of listening to the album, as that thought will linger long after the record ends.  Where it begins with hazy synthesizers, and the emphasis on feeling over thinking, and how the concept of division forms itself in our everyday thoughts.  It's also one of a few tracks that feature DJ Earl on vocals.

Putting an innovative footwork producer in the studio with a multi-instrumentalist/synth wizard is like combining chemical elements.  There are parts that sound like clearly like what we've come to know and love from Hook and Earl, and yet there are many parts that feel like an improbable yet beautiful reaction to that combination of influences, skills, and two unique visions.  'I'm Smokin' features Jacks on vocals, and instantly evokes dancehall vibes, and shows the versatility of this record.  It's a club smash that follows an introspective, meditative track, and no one else could do it like this.

'Energy' is a calm, confident one, and it follows 'I'm Smokin' perfectly.  It opens with the line 'I'm trying to get my mind right...' something that a great many of us can relate to.  The song embraces an effort that can seem impossible, and yet grows all the more important in our unpredictable era.  The tempo is laidback in comparision to DJ Earl's footwork tunes, but the feeling is very much present.  It plays like a mantra one could embrace during the calm before the storm.

With 'Hook Chop' the duo bring Wiki into the studio, and the beat is reminiscent of classic hip hop in more ways than one.  The tune bridges the gap between generations of rappers and producers by combining musical elements from the golden age, as well as the present and future.  Wiki thrives on this one, as few rappers could.  That chill sound is followed by 'We The People' with Melo-X on the mic.  Backed by unpredictable percussion Melo-X speaks of God, a presence found through our connections to one another.  The track is one of the wildest we've heard in a long time, with evolving effects on Melo-X' voice and the music behind his powerful voice.

'Mood Right Now' opens with a synthesizer, a cough, some delay, and Nick Hook's beautifully simple guitar playing.  It's one of the singles from the album, and it's also become iconic of the unbridled creativity, and positivity you'll find on this album.  While it doesn't feel like "happy" music, this record possesses a balanced optimism that it's creators have captured and shared with each and everyone of us.  'Mood Right Now' may have become a meme, a frequent Instagram caption, and yet few can say they share that mood so honestly as DJ Earl and Nick Hook on this song.

50 Backwoods winds down with 'Liberate' and 'Alice', and after your first complete, focused listen you'll want to keep this 27 minute record on repeat.  As Henri Matisse said 'Creativity takes courage...', and with that in mind this effort by DJ Earl and Nick Hook is heroic.  Listen closely to 'Liberate' and 'We The People' and see what we mean, turn up 'Mood Right Now' or 'Calculate' and you'll be able to feel that by putting this out there, DJ Earl and Nick Hook have helped to show you the way to a better and brighter day...

You just have to let them.

50 Backwoods is out now on Fool's Gold Records

DJ Earl:

Nick Hook:


Kllo: 'Backwater'

Ever since 2014's Cusp Kllo have been turning heads with that sound that seems like a dream.  Cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam later followed their debut with Well Worn, released last year.  Backwater is their first full length album, complete with songs written on the road and fully realized in Lam's studio.  The result is an album that reflects the duo's adjustment to a great deal of external change.  While change is something we all deal with, the added notoriety due to the success of Kllo adds a great deal more to the challenges of growing up.

Backwater begins with 'Downfall', one of the singles and also the recently released video.  The poignant clip gives the viewer a closer look at the duo.  As the journey winds down they stumble upon a burning sugar field.  The video and the song are poignant in that they reflect the change, and stepping forward in some new form, into a new chapter.  It's a breathtaking song that truly only begins to sink in after enough plays that it gets stuck in your head. 

Where Kllo's music has held a dreamlike quality since the beginning, with Backwater it evolves into something meditative.  Whether it's 'Still Motion' in your headphones or 'Virtue' in a dark club where you have no choice but to feel the music, it invites you to participate in something rare.  Alone, or in a crowd these songs feel like they're tailor made for the listener.  In sharing their challenging experiences and doing so with determination to create and thrive Kllo have made music that can provide the same desired effect for the listener.

'Last Yearn' captures a longing we've probably all felt, but can scarcely describe.  'By Your Side' is potentially the finest example of the musical chemistry the cousins share, with Lam's production and Kaul's voice fitting together so perfectly you can't always tell where one ends and the other begins.  Perhaps that's the beauty of Backwater, the music leads you to a meditative state, calm even when the songs are energetic.

Kllo have captured their evolution beautifully on the 12 songs comprising Backwater.  The album is a journey you'll want to take again and again.  Much like a dream the details may fade when it's over, but that elusiveness will only draw you back time and again.

Preorder Backwater: digital/vinyl



Maya Jane Coles 'Take Flight'

For an artist like Maya Jane Coles who writes, performs, and mixes her own music, even down to creating the artwork, it's tough predict what you'll find on her new releases.  With her second full length album Take Flight she's also released it on her own label I/AM/ME, and it's proven to be the perfect formula.  For an artist who began her career as part of She Is Danger, and later included the alterego Nocturnal Sunshine and been an innovative force in music from the very beginning, this album feels like a triumph.

Take Flight is comprised of 24 tracks, clocking in at nearly 2 hours.  That's not the only way in which it resembles Coles' legendary live sets and dj mixes.  The dark and moody elements are pervasive from the very beginning, and that should come as no surprise.  What might be a surprise is just how much Coles accomplishes in the course of this record. 

Your journey begins with 'Weak', one of the singles released prior to 'Take Flight'.  It's a beautifully written, extremely vulnerable song making it the perfect invitation into her world.  It's enchanting, thanks in part to starting off slow, something that you may not expect on the new album from an artist known for incredible house music.  'Weak' is complimented beautifully by 'Werk', another single found later in the album.  The pair show two sides of the music that Coles embraces on this project, and recently had a follow up release of incredible remixes on I/AM/ME.

'Bo Wint' and 'Old Jam' build on the emotional energy of 'Weak' and perfectly set up the title track.  It's at this point it feels like the album truly begins, that you can finally start to understand what you're experiencing.  'Take Flight' embraces the meditative side of house music, and uses that to draw you into the music.  As you delve further and further into the album, you start to realize that there is a delicate balance taking place.  Each track is almost like a chapter in a story, each is an essential piece of a much larger whole, but on their own there is so much to be admired about every one. 

There are so many tracks that will be perfect for dj sets all over the world.  'Trails' is a perfect example.  Just like 'Golden Days'.  From the darker beginnings of the record emerges an optimism in the sense that these aren't necessarily 'happy' songs, but they make you feel good.  'Pulse' feels a lot like a late night or early morning set from Coles as the album winds down and ends with 'Starlight'.  As you reach the conclusion of Take Flight it's pretty clear that there's a lot more going on here than you'd notice at first glance.

Maya Jane Coles has created one of the most incredible, and vitally unique albums by a dj/producer.  Take Flight is a glimpse at the evolution of an artist dedicated to every element of her craft.  It's significant in that it is a masterpiece from beginning to end where many artists known for djing release records that feel more like a collection of singles.  Take Flight is likely to help you do just that, albums like this can inspire you into embarking on something brand new.

You can listen below and buy/stream Take Flight here


Holy Fuck 'Bird Brains' EP

Toronto noise entities Holy Fuck are back with their second release in a few years. This one is called 'Bird Brains' and it's a mesmerizing four track adventure that will catch you off guard and carry you home in the most pleasant of manners.

It's percussion and bass heavy, which is extremely welcome to our ears, and this record has a slightly mre fine tuned vibe than some of their other incredible releases might. Whatever genre of music you think you prefer, Holy Fuck is here to take your finely selected preferences and toss them all up in the air. And what we mean by that is, it doesn't matter what else you like, you will like this. This band has gotten SO GOOD at doing something that literally no one else does. They have been known for recycling both gear and musical theory and turning them both into something beautiful and utterly unrecognizable. And if you've ever seen them do it live, you'll only be left uttering the most appropriate two words in the English language for this situation ... Holy. Fuck.

On this release the music itself has becoming seemingly more complex but stays so incredibly easy to enjoy. Songs like 'Raymond' are less of what we are used to from this quartet, but it's laid back, energy building vibe is extremely welcome to our ears, and will certainly become one of our all time favorites.

All in all, this is a must listen, and subsequently a must purchase. Also, seeing them live is a must. Holy Fuck are great at creating and providing music that will reward you a million times over to absorb. Treat yourself! Enjoy some 'Bird Brains'!


Njomza: 'Sad For You'

The song 'Sad For You' will catch you by surprise.  A closer listen to the EP of the same title and you'll find an artist that is pretty unpredictable, incredibly talented and who's music feels so real.  We discovered Njomza's voice just recently on the song 'Right Now' with Vindata and Alex Alex, a perfectly timed introduction with the release of 'Sad For You' on April 6th.

Calling the first track on this EP 'Intro' kind of undersells it's greatness.  It establishes quickly that this record is one of the finer points in modern pop music, and it emphasizes versatility.  'Intro' is a relaxed beginning with hazy guitars leading the way for that unforgettable voice.  The bass synth gives it a bit of an ominious feel, and the journey begins.  With ease the record begins on such a confident high note, and yet still it gets better.

The title track is reminiscent of those classic slow jams that can still get to you, but with a dreamy, minimal sound that puts Njomza's stunning voice at centre stage.  The sentiment is a familiar one, 'I'm sad for you, and you're bad for me' is a relatable sentiment, but it's never been captured like this.  'Poison' continues the theme of challenging relationships, and identifying the bad ones.  'Hear Me' treads into the world of indie synth pop, and manages to create a lasting impression within moments.

'Perfect Fit' is where the record starts to get a little weird, and it's absolutely perfect.  The ominous production, and the longing in the lyrics provides a complimentary feel to the previous few songs, and leads the way for 'Baggage' a song that feels like a classic 90's slow jam.  It's way too good to be true. 

'Sad For You' ends with the anthem 'Someone Like Me', a powerful piano driven jam that cannot be stopped.  It's one of the major reasons that this one will be climbing the pop charts and that Njomza is taking over.  She covers a lot of ground, and isn't afraid to create raw, emotional music.  'Sad For You' is perfect.

:( 4 u


Get 'Sad For You' here

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