Exclusive: Listen to Diamond Rings 'Runaway Love' (Unicorn Kid Remix)

DIAMOND_RINGS_BY_NORMAN_WONG

 By Steve Siegel 

Diamond Rings closed out 2012 strong with his sophomore LP "Free Dimensional" and has been rolling into 2013 strong with a number of high profile live performances and single releases. The Torontosinger/songwriter first garnered critical attention for his debut LP "Special Affections" that fused traditional guitar based songwriting with electronic elements.  After releasing the single “I’m Just Me,” Diamond Rings has been gearing up for the next release off of "Free Dimensional," titled "Runaway Love."

Enter remixer extraordinaire and Edinburgh native Unicorn Kid. After several high profile releases on Ministry of Sound and Ultra Records—along with opening for big name acts like Owl and fellow Scot Calvin Harris—Unicorn Kid’s 8 bit, techy but melodic sound has garnered him critical attention on the blogosphere and from more traditional avenues like BBC Radio 1. 

For his remix of Diamond Rings' "Runaway Love," Unicorn Kid takes the original vocals and constructs an entirely new song around the acapella. Opening with sweeping chords and sidechained bass, the Unicorn Kid adds an emotive, but simple two-step synth riff over the top. 

Mostly eschewing percussion for added emphasis on harmonic interplay, the Kid finally drops a deep kick at the :47 mark, whereupon the song slowly swells with filtered pads and energetic percussion.  As Diamond Rings repeats, "tell me you need me," the song builds into a drop at 1:16 with a catchy top line that would make Avicii jealous.  The Unicorn Kid’s video-game inspired synths and sweet melodies contrast nicely with the deep timbre of Diamond Rings’ voice, giving the listener an upbeat, catchy remix perfect for locking oneself into the groove.

It's perfect fare to kick your Valentines Day into the groove Look out for Diamond Rings’ new single soon and check out the remix in the player below. (Thanks to Steven Siegel for contributing this post. Based in London, is a massive dance music fan and a budding DJ/producer. You reach Steve and listen to his own productions on SoundCloud.)

February 14, 2013 in Contributor: Steve Siegel | Permalink

[Album Review] Sweden's Adrian Lux Impresses With Self-Titled Debut Album

Adrian-Lux-Debut-Album

By Steve Siegel

There are only a few up and coming electronic artists who have made an impact on commercial dance music like Adrian Lux. The Swedish DJ and producer has a robust remix portfolio (PNAU, Rebecca & Fiona, The Good Natured) exciting collaborations ("Eagles" with Sander Van Doorn), and of course, his originals ("Teenage Crime" and "Can't Sleep"). This week, he unveiled his self-titled debut release on Ultra Records, entitled "Adrian Lux," that brings the former model's considerable talents together in one pristine package of pop-savvy electronic productions.  

As modern dance music continuously produces new talents piggy backing off the euphoric trance chord mania started by Axwell and Avicii, Lux's album showcases his distinct compositional method. Lux fills his album with a lush array of synthesizers and anthemic vocals while also utilizing a variety of striking production techniques not normally seen in the electronic world (for example, the stirring acoustic guitar of "Teenage Crime"). The result is the best debut album release of this young year and an album that will definitely be in consideration for dance music album of 2012.

However, even I wasn’t prepared for the perfection Lux threw at me with the opening track, "Burning." This is probably my favorite cut on the album. It begins with high octave arpeggio that is endlessly appetizing to the ear (the Lux trademark). Next, the lovely vocals of Dante come in, detailing the agonizing details of a break-up (classic EDM right here folks).  

When Lux drops in the kick drum and bass at the 1:04 mark, we're off and running on what will no doubt be one of the serial jams of the summer. As Dante repeats, "the light we had is burning up" over a lovely saw-tooth bass line, your head is compelled to move to the beat. Robyn would have been proud to call this song her own if she was singing on it (speaking of, can we get that collab?).

"All I Ever Wanted," the second track of the album, continues the dance-pop ethos of the record.  Perhaps in a nod to the production style first popularized by Lux's contemporary Alesso, "All I Ever Wanted" opens with a driving two pronged bass line where Adrian couples a live distorted bass with a synthesized sawtooth lower end frequency underneath. The vocals of Joakim Berg work nicely with the vintage trance riff that is at the center of the track.

From there, we move into two staple tracks of the Adrian Lux catalogue: "Teenage Crime" and "Can't Sleep." "Teenage Crime" has always been a record that has really impressed me. And yes, I know it was released a few years back but still, it's stunningly unique in today’s dance music world. I've already mentioned the guitar, but one thing I really like about "Teenage Crime" that is often replicated on other parts of Adrian Lux is the uniqueness of the vocalist. Lux seems to have a serious ear for choosing vocalists who have a different style than the typical R&B singer or pop crossover artist used in most of today’s commercial house music. Sometimes, he favors the more airy style of female vocals a-la Kaskade, other times, he likes to apply ample amounts of French House vocoded accents to his vocalists like in "Weekend Heroes." Either way, each track on this debut release always offers something unique in terms of vocals, and that’s not something you can often say about dance music albums.  

Another standout track I really dig on this record is "Silence" (featuring And Then). Lux again opens with one of his classic, poppy, arpegiated riffs before beginning a slow build up with an understated synth pads that would make Eric Prydz proud. Lux drops out the percussion for a bit before bringing everything back together for a vintage trance drop reminiscent of Calvin Harris' "I'm Not Alone." I'll probably be banging this one out a lot when I'm flying down the Michigan highways this summer.

There’s not enough space here to cover the rest of the excellent songs on this album. From "Boy" to "Fire" and back again to "Can't Sleep," Adrian Lux bombasts the listener with hook after hook. In the end, "Adrian Lux" is a fantastic release, especially considering it's a debut album and how hard it is to make a good dance music album.  After the last track fades out, there is no doubt left that one can instantly recognize the Adrian Lux sound, the greatest achievement one can have in contemporary dance music. (Download Adrian Lux "Adrian Lux" on iTunes.)

Steve siegel contributorAbout Steven Siegel
Post contributed by Steven Siegel, ArjanWrites.com's dance expert in-residence (and trusted camera man). Currently finishing up his senior year at Emory University, Siegel is a massive dance music fan and a budding DJ/producer. You reach Steve and listen to his own productions on SoundCloud. Steve tweets at @steviesiegs.

April 6, 2012 in Contributor: Steve Siegel, Dance | Permalink

[FIRST LISTEN] NERVO "You're Gonna Love Again (featuring Avicii)

NERVO

By Steve Siegel (bio)

Two words: Eric Prydz. Yes, it's a bit odd I'm starting this review of "You’re Gonna Love Again" with another artist but you can't mistake the Swede's influence on this NERVO tune that surfaced on YouTube this week. "You're Gonna Love Again" follows the Prydz formula of simple, yet saucy, synthesized riffs with awesome dramatic chords. However, the ladies of NERVO also teamed up with another one of our favorite Swede's —Avicii—for an epic drop to give the tune their own distinctive sound. 

Astralwerks tells ArjanWrites.com that "You're Gonna Love Again" is the result of a "writing collaboration between NERVO and Avicii. The song has been through several iterations and has been part of the girls live set for the last few months. The final version, which we'll be releasing soon, is being crafted now by NERVO for release."

The pre-release version of "You're Gonna Love Again"  has everything a dance music fan could dream of: haunting female harmonies, trance-like emotional build-ups, a huge drop, and of course, lyrics about love (duh). "You’re Gonna Love Again" is shaping up to continue NERVO's excellent run of form, piggybacking off their unquestionable success from their most recent single "We’re All No One" that has been ruling dancefloors and Sirius XM's BPM dance station. NERVO's Liv and Mim clearly have a knack for combing pop-heavy hooks with club-minded sounds. 

It’s mind boggling to me that these two Australian hitmakers aren't popping off more here in the States.  They’ve got a great resume as songwriters to the stars (David Guetta, Ke$ha,) and they are one of the few female acts in dance music. Songs like "You're Gonna Love Again" will definitely help establish NERVO in dance-music's ever increasingly crowded marketplace

Steve siegel contributorAbout Steven Siegel
Post contributed by Steven Siegel, ArjanWrites.com's dance expert in-residence (and trusted camera man). Currently finishing up his senior year at Emory University, Siegel is a massive dance music fan and a budding DJ/producer. You reach Steve and listen to his own productions on SoundCloud. Steve tweets at @steviesiegs.

January 21, 2012 in Contributor: Steve Siegel | Permalink