By Seannie Cameras
Well, it’s 2015 and I welcome you to the first “Beltway BPM’s” of this year where at just a few weeks in we are all still adjusting to living in a world without a hoverboard (yet), but one thing remains a constant and that is the alarming excess of music being produced and consumed. I’m merely here to help sift through the sediment of shit to find those little, digital nuggets of gold that makes all the auditory excavation worth it in hindsight. Grab your ear buds, a Bud or two, another bud or two, and perhaps a bud you can smoke and start nodding your heads to some instant classics to help start your new year off proper-like.
I’m not really into house or nu-disco, but being from D.C. it’s hard to not come across events, clubs, and parties devoted to these incantations of electronic music that has seen a steady and everlasting popularity in a city that is always in flux. I can’t denounce an entire genre of music so like I stated in my opening there’s bound to be some tracks that permeates my filter and allows me to see a glimpse of the genius in the genre. Eau Claire, one-half of D.C. nu-disco/house duo Man + Woman (w/ Dj Provoke) has been making serious strides. After releasing some highly charted remixes on Hypem last year (her “Paper Planes” and “Cooler Than You” remixes) she is on pace to have a fantastic year with her remix of Pink Feather’s (Ft. Speak) “The Feeling’s Gone”. It takes the club to your speakers with beautiful, dreamy vocals sung by Portland’s own Liz Anjos encompassed around a light-hearted piano loop that keeps the track fun and airy which is a major welcome on these steel-gray winter days.
Next we go up north to New Amsterdam and visit a curious young man that goes by the moniker Sweater Beats. After a solid debut EP Cloud City last year and a year of releases, mixes, and appearances his chill, hard-hitting but captivating electronic based beats are in high-demand in 2015. In lieu of his upcoming winter tour (he graces D.C.’s U Street Music Hall in March) he has blessed the Internetz with an aptly named 30 minute mix entitled: “Sweater Weather” that pulls tracks that keep in tune with his down tempo, vibe-y style. The mix features some remixes and originals by Mr. Beats himself, with standout appearances on the mix include additions of Odesza, Lido, Vindata, Kastle, Falcons, and Hoodboi that helps craft the pace from chill tape, up to Jersey banger anthems that’ll get you off the VIP couch and onto the floor. Finally rounding out the end of the mix with a SB remix of The Neighborhood’s “Sweater Weather” w/ ethereal vocals by Kina Grannis was a perfect way to end our sonic adventure together. If you get a chance, don’t this kid come to turn it out in your town.
I have to give credit where credit is due. A few years ago while America was beginning to finally begin welcoming in electronic music a musician friend of mine moved out West from D.C. to Portland, Oregon where he wanted to explore the small but vibrant incubator of music buzzing about Bridgetown (PDX). Out of a slew of names he threw at me from behind the bar (he used to hold court at The Reef, now Roofer’s Union) in between shots of Jameson was a name you don’t forget: Natasha Kmeto. Fast-forward to present day and the aforementioned artist has signed an album deal with TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek’s Touch and Go/Interscope label, and has recently come off an impressive run on their latest North American tour. 2015 is in the palm of Ms. Kmeto’s (soon to-be Misses, congrats!) hand as she kicks off her first offering of the year with a remix of TVOTR “Happy Idiot” single off their 5th studio album, Seeds. NK strips away the “cheery” ambiance of the original with seering synth’s and heavy bass line to accompany Tunde Adebimpe’s painful chorus and refrain of “It’s been a long, way down/since you left me babe.” Put this in your “Break-Up” playlist and feel some type of way about your ex during these winter months because it may be the only thing to keep you warm.
My friend Mike on the left and Natasha Kmeto on the right in the green room of 9:30 Club – Photo By: Seannie Cameras
Last but not least we go back over to our allies from across the pond and revisit Londontown to explore an artist I found from a curated mix of NYC DMC champion and one-half of E.A.S.Y., Dj Shiftee. When he stopped by legendary DJ Plastician’s radio show on the audio mecca BBC Radio 1 a few months ago he closed his set with a soulful, passionate, and melancholy juke/footwork banger from an English artist by the name of Vorres. The track, “One Of These Old Days” premiered on the London based Modern Ruin Records debut compilation, Present Decay earlier in 2014 but still goes just as hard almost a year later. This track stood out for me due to the deft flipping of an old, soulful sample over melodically sped-up hi-hats and claps, presenting the softer side of the usually aggressive genre birthed in Chicago, aka Chiberia in the early 2000’s. Another trend that is carrying into this year is that the people making the most waves with these American, born-and-bred genres are artist from Europe or Asia, much like the Cashmere Cats, Lido’s, Kygo’s, and Avicii’s of yesteryear. This was in my top 10 favorite tracks of last year and solidifies my theory that faster BPM genres like juke/footwork, drum n bass, Jersey Club, and other higher tempo’d track are on the rise here in the U.S.A. this year and beyond.