[The Audiofiles] 2013 – A Year In Musical Review

Looking back at my posts from the last year, one that stands out the most to be is my 2012 Year in Musical Review.  Partially, because it’s catalyzed my writing career on multiple fronts – but mostly because music, especially kickass live music, is something I truly care about to my core.  Music influences our moods, our personalities and even our daily interactions.  Unless there’s something highly important and technical that I have a deadline for, I’m literally submersed in music 24/7 – from the time my alarm and I wake up, to my morning runs, to the drive to work, you get the picture: I more or less have provided myself with a soundtrack to my life.  With my attention span as short as it is (…squirrel!…), I constantly refresh my collection of original jams, remixes and singles and try to take in as much live music as I can.

I’ve been leafing through the ticket stubs and reminiscing about the excellent year in music that I just had.  From attempting to co-start a music forum site and to with The DJ List, my daily extra-curricular activities have always circled around new music, fresh artists and the latest and greatest they have to offer.  Somehow, even though I’ve managed to be busier than I’ve ever been I’ve definitely managed to fit in some quality R&R (Rave & Relaxation) into the mix. So, without further ado – here are my musical musings for 2013; enjoy!

Live Shows: Concerts and Festivals

Best Trance Show:

Above & Beyond @ Avila Beach,

Cosmic Gate @ Palladium (Runner Up)

Truth be told, I’m sitting here trying my hardest to even place Cosmic Gate in second place because Above & Beyond’s sunset at Avila Beach was just so spectacular!  It was a small crowd with unexpected surprises in store for everyone in my friend group – we each found someone at the event from out of town (LA, Riverside and SF) that we didn’t know was in attendance and were all simply wowed by the musical prowess the group possesses.  But Cosmic Gate is not a team to be underestimated, during the live show they brought out my favorite pixie blonde vocalist, Emma Hewitt, and Jonathan Mendelson who gave a phenomenal first live vocal performance during Nic Chagall’s ‘This Moment’.

Best D&B show: Modestep at the Nokia Club, High Contrast w. Camo & Krooked  at Dim Mak Studios

Best Deep / Tech House Show: Kaskade @ Focus OC’s 10 Year Anniversary

Best Progressive House Show: Eric Prydz / Pryda / Cirez D @ Create

Best Electro House Show: Gareth Emery @ XIV

Best Festival: Lightning in a Bottle

For the last six or seven years I’ve been a self-professed seasoned festival go-er and have a host of Insomniac, HARD and GoVentures events under my EDM belt (almost 40 if you want to get specific), but truth be told last year I only attended three festivals, one of them being Sea of Dreams on NYE. For as much as the lineup to  HARD Summer thrilled my pants off, the event didn’t…however, Lightning in a Bottle and Sea of Dreams surely did.  Each was musically right in their own right but on a more personal level, I truly felt bonded to the community that LIB and Burning Man cultivates and have actively been seeking out similar events ever since.

Best Festival Set: Keys n Krates, Dillon Francis, Alex Metric ((HARD Summer)) HeRObust, Pumpkin, Rusko, The Polish Ambassador,  Odeza, Andreilien ((LIB)), LowRIDERz, A-Trak, Thievery Corporation ((Sea of Dreams))

Best Venue: Sea of Dreams @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium | NYE was one of the most amazing musical experiences I’ve ever had, everything about the night was golden and a lot of that is due to the venue and soundsystem that came with it; top notch.

Weird but Rad Venue: Lightning in a Bottle @ Lake Skinner, Temecula, CA | I was tempted to give LIB the gold star for ‘Best Venue’ but after the all of the shenanigans with the county and residents of Riverside, I’ll wait until next year to grant the festival that award.  Basically, I want to see it shine in all of its glory; not just in my personal experiences but for the greater community in attendance as well.

Best Pool Party: Daylight

Best Party: Sea of Dreams

Best Up and Coming Venue: Sound in Hollywood

Favorite Reopened VenueCreate (previously, known as Vanguard)

Best CrowdDoLab shows – Avalon | If you only remember one thing about the music scene in LA, let it be this: the Do Lab will always do you right.  I always look forward to the art infused musical events they throw.  Whether they’re at the Nokia Club, King King or out in the middle of nowhere Riverside – they make sure to cater to all of your senses and the people who show up are some of the nicest friends you hadn’t met you.

Douche-iest CrowdXIV by Hyde, Greystone Manor, Sutra | I still hold by last year’s statement about Sutra, but now that I’ve finally attended events at Greystone and XIV I can easily bump those two to the top of the list.  Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with my appetite for all things Do Lab and underground, but I can’t wrap my head around wearing 3″+ heals to a club and cozy-ing up to people just snag an extra drink (or five).  I prefer the let-your-freak-flag-fly mentality of other events and prefer stomping around in flats to trying to maintain a proper demeanor in an outfit that’s definitely not meant for dancing.

Best Lasers: Create and Exchange have most definitely stepped their laser game up in the last year, far surpassing anything that Avalon has ever done (sorry guys – not knocking the place (it’s still rad!) but it’s true).

Ferry Corsten @ Exchange
Hit us with those laser beams
*pew pew pew*

Artists

Favorite Set/Act of 2013: Above & Beyond in Avila Beach

Best Surprise of 2013: Crywolf, Mitis, Kill Paris, Disclosure, Keys n Krates, Flume

So Glad I (Re-)Discovered: Bonobo, Emancipator, Shpongle, The Magician, 

Remixes So Nicely:  SubFocus, Flume

Best Remix-er: Boy Noize, Dillon Francis, Cazzette

Favorite Vocalists: Jonathan Mendelson, Alex Clare, Annabel Englund, MNEK, Chet Faker, Florence Welch, Emma Hewitt

Most Disappointing: Daft Punk everything; maybe because it was directly juxtaposed to Keys’n’Krates with their live instruments, but Duke Dumont was also pretty underwhelming live and looked like he was just pressing a button; last but not least, Cedric Gervais did absolutely nothing for me.

Vocalists Who Shouldn’t Perform Live with DJs: Danny Brown

People Who Should Be Reminded They’re Not DJs: Will.i.Am, Paris Hilton

Songs:

My Top 10 Songs of the Year

  1. Depeche Mode – Soothe My Soul (Steve Angello + Jaques Lu Cont Remix)
  2. Darkside – Papertrails
  3. Oliver – Night is On My Mind (Dillon Francis Remix)
  4. Disclosure – You & Me (Baauer Remix)
  5. Seven Lions + Myon & Shane 54 – Strangers
  6. Minnesota – Stardust Redux (Crywolf Remix)
  7. Maya Jane Coles ft Karin Park – Everything
  8. Thomas Jack – Booka Shake
  9. Flume ft Freddie Gibbs – Holdin’ On (LKids Remix)
  10. Lane 8 – Be Mine
  11. Mat Zo – Lucid Dreams – (M Machine Remix) [runner up]

Favorite Soundcloud Sets:

Show and Tell:

Best Hosted Web Show: BBC Radio 1 Diplo + Friends, Above & Beyond Group Therapy

Best Site for Discovering New Music: Hypem

Best Sites for Shows: MetroWize LA,Resident Advisor, The DJ List

XP Points:

Festivals Attended: Lightning in a Bottle, HARD Summer, Sea of Dreams

Shows Attended: All Day I Dream (/Lee Burridge), Donald Glaude, Richard Vission, Porter Robinson, Seven Lions(x2), Ferry Corsten, Krewella (x3), Modestep, Mimosa, Kill Paris, Crywolf, Markus Schulz, KhoMha, Jamie Jones, Jack Beats, Style of Eye, Gareth Emery, Kaskade, Skrillex, Bauuer, Eric Prydz (x2), Above & Beyond, Cosmic Gate, Candyland.

Parties Frequented: None (weird!)

The Audiofiles: My Top Trance Tracks

One of the great things about meeting people in the EDM scene is we each have such unique tastes in what moves us; take me for example – I’m a sucker for some floor to the four beats but I love me some dirty dubstep and vocal trance. Actually, let’s just be real – I love it all!

The other day, a new friend of mine got to talking about favorite trance tracks and he sent me away with some homework: my mission, should I choose to accept, was to create a CD with ten songs – seven favorites and three absolute classics. Well, I’ve been bumping this mix now all morning and can’t get enough – so I thought I’d share the wealth =)

#1. First State – Falling (First State’s Stuck Parachute Mix)
#2. Above & Beyond present Oceanlab – Lonely Girl (Gareth Emery Remix)
#3. Aly & Fila ft. Jwaydan – We Control the Sunlight
#4. Armin van Buuren ft. Jennifer Rene – Fine Without You
#5. Aven – All I Wanna Do (Ferry Corsten Remix)
#6. John O’Callaghan – Save This Moment (Gareth Emery Remix)
#7. Lange ft Sarah Howells – Out of the Sky (Kyau & Albert Remix)
#8. Markus Schulz & Departure – Without You Near (Gabriel & Dreseden Remix)
#9. Motorcycle – As The Rush Comes ( G&D Sweeping Strings Remix)
#10. Tiesto – Everything (Cosmic Gate Remix)
(Bonus) – Tritonal – Hands to Hold Me

Music Monday: Trance Around the World

I have way too many guilty pleasures; honestly, at times it seems like I just can’t help it!  Lately – and in no particular order – they’ve been: sparkly jewelery, suede riding boots, skinny pants in rich colors, pristine white t-shirts, one of a kind gaudy purses and music.  When I was driving back home last week for Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to go through my old CD collection; and when I say “collection” – I mean it.  There were some that dated back as far as middle school and freshman year of high school – and then through college and up to my years in Los Angeles.  What was supposed to be a cathartic six hour drive back to San Francisco turned into an assorted hodgepodge of the highlights of my childhood; what it drove home was how my brain and my ears evolved from loving the dirty basslines of old school hip-hop and gangsta’ rap, the soul soothing vibrations of the kick drum and the acoustic guitar and the effortless angelic vocals within folk rock.  For the longest time, I thought all of this had been lost on me – but now I realize that it’s been here all along, hiding in plain sight.  It’s in the timbre of drum and bass, the ephemeral qualities of vocal trance and the harmonic dissonance of dubstep and tech house.  But, no matter how I spin it, my heart will always and forever be in the hands of trance.

During the work week there are so many trance podcasts to pay attention to that it’s hard knowing just which one to listen to – I’ve bounced around from Ferry Corsten, Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and Max Graham – all equally talented, and offering something totally different than the others.  Lately, though, Above and Beyond have been pulling me back into their grasp – especially their Trance Around the World show from India.  In my opinion, they have some of the best, brightest and talented musicians on their label – and it shows in both their live shows and in the production quality of the hit-after-hit singles they release.  Above & Beyond’s latest show was in India, where they celebrated the 450th Episode of Trance Around the World with some of their favorite DJs.   So turn your volume up, tune the world out and get ready for a musical journey…

Trance: The Natural Evolution of Classical Music

Music, like math, seems to run in the family; both of my Grandmothers sang and played the piano.  My dad is a master of the guitar and the cello, which he brings out of the old closets every now and again.  My mom grew up playing the piano and still loves playing the guitar and piano as  hobby.  Growing up, the musical staples in the household were CCR, Johnny Clegg, Eric Clapton, U2,  the Jackson’s in any combination, and the soundtrack to La Bamba.

I picked up the flute when I was in 3rd grade; don’t let anyone tell you differently than this: it’s a difficult instrument!  I went from having a basic flute, to a silver flute, to a flute with open holes called the ‘French Model’. The older I got, the more modified the instrument became but my love for sports and physical competition outweighed my desire to play. (Fun Fact: The bone flute is the oldest recognizable instrument, coming in at 40,000 years old.)  Ironically, after I left the basketball team as a Sophomore I dove right into my music history class and joined the choir.

The more I studied the different periods of classical music, the more I picked apart modern music and saw it in context with society. The music genre says something very specific about the culture and era of the people that both produce it as well as absorbing themselves in it. The first CD I ever bought was Offspring’s Americana, my first mix tape was Hip Hop and R&B with the likes of Next, TQ, Nas, TLC and 2Pac.

By the time I was old enough to both understand what those rap songs were talking about and be annoyed by emo screaming, I’d gravitated towards electronic music and have dabbled in pretty much in subgenre, but Trance was my first love.

There were little to no vocals, and if they did exist there were sweet and delicate; much more pleasing to the ears. In my opinion, modern day trance is the natural evolution of classical music as a genre.  Songs contain harmony, modulation, and thematic development; they more or less follow strophic form and much like with classical composers, modern producers have essentially attained demigod status.

Most of my favorite DJs have a weekly broadcast on Digitally Imported Radio, which covers all genres of Electronic Dance Music – more commonly referred to as EDM.  I could go on and on and on about all of the different trance DJs and what they each bring to the genre, but I’d rather have you listen for yourself.  If you wanted to ask what my favorite trance tracks were, look no further than the Trance Thursday playlist below.  And if you still want more, check the links at the bottom for a few of the DJs and broadcasts I can’t live without.

Tracklist

  1. Lange vs Gareth Emery – This is All Out (Heatbeat vs Lange Edit)
  2. Andain – Promises (Myon & Shange 54 Summer of Love Mix)
  3. Tiesto ft Jes – Everything (Cosmic Gate Remix)
  4. Ørjan Nilsen feat. Neev Kennedy – Anywhere But Here (Radion6 Remix)
  5. First State – Falling (First State’s Stuck Parachute Mix)
  6. Maz Zo & Arty vs Oceanlab – Satellite Dynamics (Mat Zo Remix)

Podcasts: