Blisspop Presents: Feedback Friday – May 10th, 2019

Here at Blisspop, we aim to show our audience who’s making their mark upon electronic music culture today. We sort through the good and the bad, bringing you the latest sounds. We’re back at it again with the latest edition of our series, Feedback Friday. This edition features our contributors: Marshall Stukes, Justin Barini-Rivers, Alex Rubenstein, Kristina Westernik, and Will Creason. This week’s music includes tracks by Carly Rae Jepsen, Minimal Violence, Roland Tings, Owl Vision, and ANGELZ.

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Julien”

Justin Barini-Rivers – This is a pop record with some disco and house flavors. The arrangement and mix are killer. You never have a second to decide on anything because Carly is switching around and so is the song. This is easily my favorite song from her. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Carly Rae Jepsen until I heard this. This is the pop music I love – a good song top to bottom without any gimmicks or tricks for the radio. (7/10)

Will Creason – Of course this one is good. You already knew it was going to be because Jepsen is a machine at crafting instantly digestible earworm melodies over spry and tricky arrangements. One thing that I notice when listening to this is how Jepsen’s voice sounds. There is a very distinct, almost digital, clarity to her voice. I don’t mean in a processed way, I mean her singing voice sounds very clean, like polished, stainless steel. I’ve always thought that some of the most identifiable singers are just born with a distinct voice, something that you can’t really practice to achieve, you have it or you don’t. Jepsen has a voice that adheres to this style of futurist pop music so well that it’s almost unfair to her contemporaries. Adding to that, the nu disco-y production here is as fun as a roll of bubble wrap. (10/10)

Kristina Westernik – The vocal production is quality for this pop song; I can tell the vocals are tuned well. I actually dig the sound of the snare – it’s nice and round. The songwriting follows fairly standard songwriting conventions. Overall, this is a pleasant, lighthearted sound suitable for this spring. (5.75/10)

Alex Rubenstein – Carly Rae Jepsen can do no wrong. I don’t quite understand how she is not on the same level commercially as some of her pop music contemporaries. Ultimately, it does not matter because CRJ consistently makes some of the most carefree and delicious music time and time again. And this affords me the opportunity to see her in more intimate settings rather than the giant arena rodeos of acts like Ariana Grande. Her latest single, “Julien,” is an incredibly bouncy track filled with nu-disco influences and catchy-as-hell riffs. Carly’s voice is as pristine as ever here and makes it seem like crafting hit after hit comes as naturally as breathing. Her highly anticipated follow-up to EMOTION releases on May 17th and I could not be any more ready. (9/10)

Marshall Stukes – Never thought I’d say this, but I’m digging this track. The production is very pop-y, but not nauseating. I wouldn’t play this on repeat because I can definitely see this song being one of those summer hits that gets stuck in everyone’s head after two months on the radio. I didn’t like the popping-like percussion in the first half of the chorus, however. To me, it doesn’t fit and it steps over the bells in the same section, which I dig more. All in all, I liked it. (7/10)

Minimal Violence – “InDreams”

Justin Barini-Rivers – Minimal Violence is a perfect name for this group; you have a good idea of what you’re in for before you even hit play. I am feeling a lot of techno and minimal vibes on this one, but what caught me the most was the combination of the kick and cymbals. The arrangement of those elements is very powerful and keeps pushing the track. The kick also has a bit of a gabber style distortion on it, giving it a nice bit of texture as well as low end push. This isn’t a casual experience, but at the same time, for those looking for a bit of minimal violence, this is the choice. (6/10)

Will Creason – Vancouver’s, Minimal Violence, comes through with the goth trance I didn’t know I needed. The title track from the group’s excellent album sounds like a late 90s rave fever dream, one part anthemic trance chords and one part pulverizing tom-heavy EBM techno. I’m all for this! (8/10)

Kristina Westernik – This techno track has grit and bravado!  It definitely has a throwback vibe. This track makes me wonder where my old pair of JNCO jeans are. Way to go Ninja Tune for signing this gem! (8/10)

Alex Rubenstein – This track has a very impressive widescreen, cinematic feel to it – all high-definition techno. It’s a tightly-knit group of elements working together to craft a futuristic vision of what the club sounds like in the year 2099. Minimal Violence keeps the energy turned to high throughout the six minute runtime and not once does the track feel stale. This is a hit! (8.5/10)

Marshall Stukes – This is my kind of techno – simple lead, toms all over the place, great bass drum and on point variation. I love the acid bass that comes in half way through, and the last 30 seconds are a great way to end a song. I’d definitely add this to my techno playlist. (8/10)

Roland Tings – “Hiding in the Bushes”

Justin Barini-Rivers – This is some lovely house music with a clean arrangement and execution. I know what the vibe is from the start, but what I love about this track is the development. It slowly builds and controls the momentum so well. The addition of cheeky rim shots and percussion makes this track so much more exciting. The drums really push so well. Rooftops Beware! And don’t forget the melodic aspects of the synths; they rinse over you like warm rain on a summer day. This track is smooth and would fit in a lot of situations. I would play it several times and get the vibe. (8/10)

Will Creason – Yet another example of Australians coming through with supremely good vibes. A great choice of sounds that slowly build and recede, drums that come in at just the right moments and some outstanding, lush synth pads. For me, everything about this song is a win. Please bring Roland Tings back to U Hall! (10/10)

Kristina Westernik – The Melbourne, Australia based producer, Roland Tings, has been steadily building his musical career and is about to head out on tour this June. His bouncy house track, “Hiding in the Bushes,” builds steadily through layered percussion, sweeping polyphonies, and stabby chordal progressions. (8.75/10)

Alex Rubenstein – This is a really fresh take on house music from Roland Tings. It’s lush, bouncy and infectiously groovy. I think I made up at least three new dance moves in the time it took me to listen to “Hiding In The Bushes.” I am somehow reminded of Bonobo, if he made more uptempo music. I love the effects being used here and all the individual elements sound so clean; it just makes for a really refreshing listen. Roland Tings is absolutely staying on my radar now! (8.5/10)

Marshall Stukes – I kind of wanted some vocals on this one, as I felt that some part of the song was missing something. The foley percussions are great, but I don’t think it holds the song together. Also, the song is a bit too long for my tastes. I liked the res solo in the later parts of the song, but again, I think it runs a bit long. I’d dance to this on the dance floor but would probably skip to the next track four minutes in if I were listening to it on its own. (7.5/10)

Owl Vision – “Zepulchre”

Justin Barini-Rivers – I have been a long time Owl Vision fan. Owl Vision always comes up with these catchy, yet violently distorted tracks. This is head-banging music at its finest. Electronic-meets-stadium-rock-meets-industrial, the sounds make me want to take my car to its top speed. The track has a very listenable and aggressive sound reminiscent of Justice and Gesaffelstein with its powerful and simple arrangement. Overall, this is a jam and anyone interested in the darker side of mid-tempo should check out Owl Vision. (9/10)

Will Creason – Whew, when that beat lands, oh my! Trends may come and go but a wall of grimy sonic filth and a slow kick-snare rhythm will always work. This one is ruthlessly efficient with its few elements, if not all that inventive. (6/10)

Kristina Westernik – This track has dark, brooding energy. The bass punches me in the chest with it’s low end presence. Those pulsating, saw-tooth waves are also stabbing my ears. The sidechain compression smacks me upside the head continuously after the drops. I’m a tad stunned after listening to this beast of a track; I think I need to sit down now. (7/10)

Alex Rubenstein – “Zepulchre” sounds like if distortion was the base of the track and then that was distorted even further. That being said, I am rocking with this track as it’s got a unique swing to it given the level of heaviness. The vocal sample is nice and haunting as well. I’m interested to hear more from this guy, for sure. (7/10)

Marshall Stukes – Owl Vision is a master of dark vibes. The kick drive and the bass are as unique as they are heavy. It is repetitive, but with this kind of track, that’s the point. You feel the atmosphere and just headbang for a good three minutes. (8.5/10)

ANGELZ X D’AFRICAN – “Never Enuff”

Justin Barini-Rivers – Angelz has turned a corner on “Never Enuff,” and I’m in love with the entire track. This song is truly hypnotic, but it still has the energy to keep you playing it on repeat. Angelz is already known for carving his own path, but he snapped with this song. This is a pearl in a sea of house music, even calling this song ‘house’ feels cheap. This is a magical tune with some awesome sound design and vocals. It’s so listenable I found myself just playing it on repeat. Give this a listen and just let the sounds rinse over you. This is one of those songs that’s going to change the scene. Angelz is somehow taking his sound deeper. (10/10)

Will Creason – The backing track here is cool; the choice of percussive sounds is unusual and the production quality is fairly good front to back. However, the track never really takes off for me; the backing doesn’t really have the ebb and flow I would expect. I am not a fan of the vocals at all – the lyrics are vapid and the shouting-in-Migos-triplet-flow chorus style is beyond played out. This one has some good ideas that don’t really come together. (3/10)

Kristina Westernik – I love those triplet cadences in the chorus! It’s got intensity and flow. Admittedly, I am not a total fan of the mumbly verses, but the overall style of this song is cool and edgy. I can’t wait to blast this on my ride home tonight! (8/10)

Alex Rubenstein – So, I am not familiar with ANGELZ nor D’AFRICAN, but from this track alone, it sounds like they scraped the bottom of the barrell for tropes in hip-hop, edm and pop and kind of threw this song together in 30 minutes. The lyrics are pretty corny here, which isn’t helping. I just don’t hear anything that is distinguishing this from other artists out there doing the same flavor of music. I do see this track is over a year old so maybe ANGELZ has evolved since then. One can only hope. (2/10)

Marshall Stukes – The production of this track is top notch. The sounds that are layered create a hype, sort of dark and melancholic, vibe that really sits with me. I’m a sucker for piano bass, and this song does it really well. This is a song that I’d listen to a couple of times before I go out, and I love it. Shout out Eddie Murphy. (8.5/10)

The Results:

Roland Tings – “Hiding In The Bushes” – 8.55/10

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Julien” – 7.75/10

Minimal Violence – “InDreams” – 7.7/10

Owl Vision – “Zepulchre” – 7.5/10