The final list of KCOU’s recent essentials:
Listening to Nicolas Jaar is never exactly easy. There’s very few times that he’ll drop a four to the floor dance beat and crank out the “magic” synths. Most times, you’ll feel like Joaquin Phoenix in some of the more dark, subdued, druggy moments of Inherent Vice. However, what he lacks in immediate accessibility he makes up for in the late night ambience. The god of subtle guitar and synth licks interwoven into abstract soundscapes, coupled with a deep, raspy vocal line that’s sure to make your neck hairs stand on end, Nicolas Jaar is simply the most holistically innovative and complete electronic artist of the past 10 years.
– Ashwini Mantrala
Disclosure – Settle
Disclosure’s debut album, Settle, was one of those albums that slowly picked up steam but really gained traction a little while after its release. Honing in on traditional British house music, Settle’s blend of new sounds mixed with a familiar format really made this album feel unique. Every track on Settle is one that you can dance to, even the slower more ballad esque types. Look at the success of “Latch”, the one song that everyone knows from the album. It incorporates innovation while still remaining familiar and most of all, it’s fun. It’s fun, it’s danceable, and enjoyable and at the end of the day, that’s really what matters.
– Nick Wyer
Jamie xx – In Colour
Jamie xx goes solo with his 2015 album In Colour. With this album, Jamie xx creates house music that make you emotional on the dance floor. This is evident on the track “Loud Places” which features Jamie’s fellow The xx member Romy. The album has a heavy influence from The xx since most tracks were produced during Jamie’s time with them. Jamie xx shows he can accommodate features other than his band members with one of the most fun singles of 2015 “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” featuring Young Thug and Popcaan. The combination of fun and moody vibes on In Colour makes it a great album for KCOU. You feel just as many emotions as the colors on the cover of the album, and you never know what you’ll feel when you tune in.
– Andrew Muenks
The Avalanches – Since I Left You
The Avalanches debut album Since I Left You is an eclectic sampling masterpiece. The album uses over 3,000 samples from multiple decades. The diversity of sampling is seen in one of the singles, “Frontier Scientist,” in which The Avalanches sample a comedy sketch for vocals, include the whinny of a horse in the beat, and perform turntablism with a squawking parrot. Despite the quantity of samples, Since I Left You is a cohesive, catchy electronic album. This project reflects the content produced at KCOU. We have many diverse and often strange tastes, but collectively, it creates a great college radio station.
– Andrew Muenks
Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
Chaz Bundick’s third full length album brought back elements of his first release, Causers of This, in a more completed form. Chaz’s smooth vocals stand out more than they have before. Each song is fully fleshed out and has a place on the album. Anything in Return will be a great party Staple for years to come.
– Claire Winegarner
Neon Indian – Vege Intl. Night School
Vega Intl. Night School, Neon Indian’s third album, is an album that came out of left field, but somehow managed to be one of the best electronic synth based albums that’s been released in recent years. Four years after his widely successful album, Era Extrana, Neon Indian’s Vega Intl. Night School is one of those albums that creates vivid visuals for the listener with its spacey 80s summertime vibe. The vocals seem as if they drip over the fluid and lush synths that are present all over the album. From its darkest moments to its brightest, Vega Intl. Night School is one of those albums that’ll constantly have you grooving along to the beat.
– Nick Wyer
Justice – Cross
Cross (2007) stylized as “†” by those who know how to type such characters, is the debut album of the critically acclaimed french electronic pop duo, Justice. The Parisian pair, consisting of Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé, sources strong influences in funk, disco and metal. These genres, filtered through a futuristic lens produce a feeling of overwhelming mechanical doom. The opening synths of the album’s first track, “Genesis” are ominous and pounding and settle tone for the albums dark and gritty party atmosphere. But the album has arch, and waves. By the third track, “D.A.N.C.E.,” the most accessible pop song on the album, we have reached a sweeter and nostalgic sound, still heavily ingrained with the robotic feel that unites the entire album. By “Valentine,” the album’s seventh track, we have reached a still ominous but melancholy vibe. And then we come right back up again with “Tthhee Ppaarrttyy” and “Dvno”. The album begins its decline into darkness with “Stress,” a cyber goth anthem that is just as upsetting to listen to at full volume in headphones as its name suggests, but we kind of like it anyway. The closing tracks “Waters of Nazareth” and “One Minute to Midnight” are just as darkly intense and leave you exhausted. If you’re not a gross combination of sweaty and angry by the end of this album, you didn’t listen to it loud enough.
– Lily Moore
DJ Rashad – Double Cup
Halfway throug listening to DJ Rashad, one is greeted by “I Don’t Give A Fuck”, a rumble featuring some dude proclaiming that he doesn’t give a fuck, and a nauseating combination of intense microdrumming and what sounds like hospital equipment malfunctioning. It’s the most confrontational moment on the album, and it still grooves incredibly. To a degree, its a wonder that more footwork isn’t immediately antagnostic, its extremely high tempos and seeming brickwall of stuttering polyrhythms can in some cases seem doomed to disorient, which while worthy in many contexts, can’t work for all. Rashad is a master of texture, he’s able to combine the necessary assault of footwork and assemble it into a smooth pattern, engineered to make your head bob while still seeming out of this world. Rashad’s shadow is felt throughout the entirety of the footwork world, and his back catalog of unreleased music means his voice will seeminly flow for a long time. Double Cup, however, is the most complete sentiment of his storied abilities.
– Jim Jung
Baths – Cerulean
It’s like a really synthetic childhood memory. In a good way. The first time you hear “Aminals”, you’re sort of stuck in between feeling like you should be foot-working or punting stuffed animals all around Pandora (yes, the Avatar planet). Dropping right around the time the “chillwave” bubble was about to burst, Cerulean is in all essence as romantic a love album as those that don’t sound like music for the 23rd century. Expertly textured samples and a perfect ear for surprisingly tender vocals, Baths made his mark on the LA beatmaking scene in one fell stroke.
– Ashwini Mantrala
Burial – Untrue
Burial is a bald guy from South London. He’s the kinda guy who you accidentally make eye contact with while waiting to order a McChicken at 4pm, mutually recognizing that you probably shouldn’t have made eye contact but nothing can be done about it. Burial also has a bit of a shitty goatee. However, until 2008, his identity was unknown, he was shrouded, no live shows, no tell all exposés, no glamour shots at the McDonalds. While this mystery may have lent to his hype, divorced from this context his 2007 work work Untrue still remains intensely powerful, an album deeply evocative of after-midnight, of the strangely sterile lights of a late night bus ride. The disembodied vocal samples, along with the shuddering, retro tinged UK drum brogramming makes for an unceasing, distant groove. Although the ‘revival’ of classic Electronic British sounds has proven itself to be decidedly poppy (See: Disclosure), Burial’ almost preternatural, earlier introduction is shadowy and evocative.
– Jim Jung
Jai Paul – Unreleased Demos
Jai Paul’s laptop got stolen, or something, and his demos leaked their oozing entrails all over the Internet. His label shut it down quickly, including most links, and its easy to understand why. The limited nature of his output seems like an ever looming presence over his career, and these demos are definitely unfinished. Many are a minute or under, merely sketches featuring talk of cannibalism and babies, with mixing being rough practically all over. In many cases releases of this nature are appreciated, but merely as a point of interesting diversion, they provide an intimate look into the creative process before an artists more legitimate releases. With these demos, essentially every song is golden. Str8 Outta Mumbai is impeccably crafter, its cyber-funk from the dumpster seemingly proving incredibly captivating and hooky. Its an intimate listen, but one that proves bold, and somehow not stale, given the amount of people who’ve attempted to rip of Jai Paul.
– Jim Jung
Italians Do it Better – After Dark (Vol. 1)
Yes. I know. You’ve seen Drive. The soundtrack was soooo “modern, but like really throwback too, ya know?.” After staring into those beautiful, soulless peepers of Ryan Gosling for way too damn long, you really wanted to be like all the other cool kids and talk about your deep, DEEP love for this genre that suddenly became every indie/movie buffs new favorite genre, Italian house. “What is this Italian disco? Where did it come from? Why do I sound like Doc Brown got transported into a trashy nightclub in Mykonos?” you ask. All perfectly reasonable questions. Well fear not, young trendy grasshopper. Let’s take a trip back all the way back to the year 2007, when two weirdos named Johnny Jewel and Mike Simonetti came together to found a label called Italians Do It Better, and subsequently released one of the seminal compilations of modern house and electronic music. After Dark is a masterclass in classily done, yet extremely dark synthpop. Constantly wearing its influences on its sleeve, Glass Candy, Chromatics, Professor Genius, Mirage and Farah harken both back to the roots of electro in Europe (Glass Candy’s cover of Kraftwerk’s classic Computer Love might go down as one of the best ever), and push the sound into brand new directions. You’ll be caught between a champagne fueled night at Studio 54 and a weird acid trip in your sketchy friend’s strobe-lit basement while listening to this monster of a triple LP. And I promise I mean that in the best possible way. Jewel’s collective vision shines through all of these tracks, as he is the leading contributor to almost all the bands on the label, which has spurned such modern ear candy masterpieces as Chromatics’ Kill For Love and Symmetry’s Themes from an Imaginary Film. An album that aims to please while also taking your soul, After Dark is an absolute must listen for any so called fan of electronic music. This has been an education by The Holy Minister.
– Ashwini Mantrala