Well this was quite the surprise when it turned up in our Soundcloud stream today – a brand new (free) track from Seven Lions, featuring Minnesota and Mimi Page. Mimi Page does a wonderful job with the lyrics while Seven Lions and Minnesota take care of a giant melodic instrumental. This really reminds me of Seven Lions’ previous collaboration with Tritonal (below), with it’s slow, straining buildups and that big, climatic drop with a melodic, bubbly bass that just makes you nod your head right from the start.
SO excited to finally share this with you guys… Mimi Page, Jeff (Seven Lions) and I started this tune over a year ago. After Mimi and I worked together on the “A Bad Place” remix I really wanted to work with her again on an original track… And ever since a mutual friend showed me Jeff’s work a year and a half ago i was eager to do a song with him.
Being the procrastinator that I am (and hating the task of limiting the year’s gems to 10), I’m one of the last to compile a Top 10 list. It is likely due to this fact that I am left with no choice but to not repeat previous titles from the other Top 10 lists, as a courtesy to all of you (and an added challenge for me!) There were some mighty fine picks already mentioned, but I’ve carved out a selection of tracks that have been happily recycled in my Kollection, play after play. I remain honest in my love for meaningful hiphop, funky and unusual rhythmic instrumentals, and bone-chilling melodic electronic music. Remixes were kept to a minimum, as most of them ended up sounding the same this year – lacking in character and originality. When we heard something truly special, we knew it.
As I said last year and about 10 seconds ago, I don’t particularly fancy these ‘Top 10′ lists – BUT, they stand for the purpose of quantification of some sort; a nearly impossible feat and a certainly imperfect attempt at culminating a tasty slice o’ 12 months of musical outpour. Here we go.
1. Do I See Color – Adventure Club
The Montreal duo had a huge year – playing at EDC, touring all over the place, becoming nearly a household name in the blogosphere and beyond. Ever since we sat down in February, I’ve been following them closely with each release. “Do I See Color” was released in January 2012, and isn’t necessarily my all-time favorite A.C. cut. With that said, it was a staple all-original release for them – signifying their ability to surprise us with a funkier sound than their usual melodic beauties. Download:Do I See Color
2. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood
There is something so incredibly pungent about this band’s sound – I’ve gone into detail about the fivesome and their wonderful I’m Sorry EP in our interview, but these recent Columbia signees bolted into our vision last year and 2013 is going to be massive for this talented, dark bunch. “Sweater Weather” is still my favorite from them, a classic track that made us all pay attention as we drove with the windows down. Download:Sweater Weather
3. No Interruption – Hoodie Allen
This hit was a game changer for Hoodie. It’s possibly one of the catchiest tunes I heard all year, the video was top notch (and we knew Hoodie had really made it when it reached about a million views in its first month), and it’s one of his cleanest productions yet. 100% fun, guaranteed to be a good time. Could it be on the radio? Yes. Is it shitty radio music? No. Download:No Interruption
4. 2020 – Sol
I actually know every word to this song. I first fell in love with the simplicity of the beat. I then actually heard what this man was saying – each line is delivered with such an unwavering passion. Sol has a distinct message and direction, one that I truly respect and admire. Download:2020
5. Gold – Bondax
This one really is like gold to me. The beautiful vocals/lyrics emit loads of soul, putting a smile on my face every time. The way this progresses is also irresistible, bubbling under your skin until it melts you completely by its end. If there were ever a track to make you completely let go of everything else, it’d be this lovely production. Download:Gold
6. HyperParadise (Flume Remix) – Hermitude
Hot damn, this is funky! I’d listened to the Australian producer for the last quarter of 2012 and came to the conclusion that he really is the real deal when it comes to production. There isn’t a single word to describe his works, but this track especially is so full of life. It’s vibrant energy is absolutely contagious, and it’s going to continue to swirl through my speakers this coming year. Download:HyperParadise (Flume Remix)
7. Just What I Am – Kid Cudi Ft. King Chip
Oh Cudi. I fell in love all over again with this self-conscious release from our favorite lonely rapper. I never cared for his attempts at rock-infused hiphop, but reconnected with the straight forward nature of this piece and its power to make you feel unstoppable. Download:Just What IAm (Ft. King Chip)
8. Tesselate – Alt – J
An Awesome Wave is one awesome album. I’ve played lesser-known cuts like “Ms” and “Bloodflood” countless times, which is a testament to just how deep in love I’ve fallen for these Brits. “Tesselate”, however, really shined a blinding light on these guys. After only a few seconds, you can hear how genius their instrumentation is – how intricate the rhythms are, how lovable that nasal-y voice is. Phew, they’re onto something. Download:Tessalate
9. The Recipe – Kendrick Lamar Ft. Dr. Dre
I saw this performed live at Coachella 2012, and everyone was grooving out to the then-newly-released Recipe from hiphop master Dr Dre and new prodigy on the block, Kendrick. I surprised myself with how much I liked this, a little more thug than I usually go. Something about those looped female vocals and the gritty verses make for a winning combination. Download:The Recipe
10. Cosmic Love (Seven Lions Remix) – Florence & the Machine
I can’t emphasize enough how beautiful this remix is. The original is so delicate, and Jeff Montalvo respects the gorgeous harp that makes the track what it is. I tried to keep the remixes to a minimum on this list, because each popular song of 2012 has about 3 remixes for each day of the week (yes, I’m being cheeky) – but Seven Lions really owned this one. He also exploded this year, and for good reason. The guy knows how to create beautiful melodic dubstep, as also evidenced on his fantastic original debut EP, Days to Come. Download:Cosmic Love (Seven Lions Remix)
2012 is over, and narrowing down my favorite tracks of the past year is an ambiguous task. Do I just pick my top 10 most played? Or do I try to pick apart what songs defined the year for me? Maybe a mix of both is more appropriate. 2012, for me, has been defined largely by the trance genre. Yeah, I still enjoy some hip hop, dubstep and what-not (The Heist and Halcyon are two of my top albums of the year), but for the most part whenever I have time to listen to music I’m usually turning on an episode of Trance Around the World (Group Therapy Radio now, for all you folks new to trance) or putting on a throwback essential mix of Arty or Above & Beyond.
But the trance genre isn’t the only kind of music in my top 10. I’ve been a long-time fan of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and watching The Heist catapult the duo into the national spotlight made me genuinely happy. I’ve been excited about different artists who are creating beautiful house productions, like Zedd and Arty, who manage to keep pushing the envelope with each new track. James is down on EDM right now, and he raises lots of good points, but for me I continue to be excited with new releases from artists whom I love.
Enough rambling. Here are my top ten songs of 2012.
1. Clarity – Zedd ft. Foxes
Remix and rehash this one all you want, but I can’t get over the original Clarity by Zedd featuring Foxes. The vocals, the tempo, the melody – it all just comes together and creates a beautiful piece of work that I can’t stop playing.
2. Dead in the Water – Ellie Goulding
This is probably my favorite track off Ellie’s 2012 album, Halcyon. It’s one of her slower tracks, but I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs she’s ever put out – a pure, slow song that always calms me down.
3. The Veldt – Deamau5
I’ve been slowly getting more involved with Deadmau5 and his music. The Veldt, for me, was the first song he’s put out that really grabbed me and had me coming back time after time. I think Chris James handles the vocals wonderfully, and the way that it ties in so perfectly with Ray Bradbury’s short story makes this song mean so much more.
4. Arty’s Essential Mix
Yeah, yeah, so this technically isn’t a single “track.” But damn if I didn’t play this mix a lot during the past year. I love Arty and his work, and I think that this essential mix showcases so much of the trance genre that I love. This is always a go-to for a long drive or flight.
5. Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
I just loved the entire album, The Heist, from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. This song came out at a necessary time in the United States and has helped fuel the changing culture of hip hop.
6. Thing Called Love – Above & Beyond
This track came out in 2011 actually, but what the hell. This is without a doubt one of my most-played songs of 2012. I love Above & Beyond, and I think that this song is one of their more powerful pieces that seems to speak a universal message.
7. Eyes ft. Mindy Gledhill – Kaskade
Right, so this is another one from 2011, but damn if this hasn’t absolutely made me fall in love with Kaskade and his work. If you haven’t listened to Kaskade’s Essential Mix, stop what you’re doing right now and listen – thank me later.
8. Still With Me ft. Cristina Soto (Seven Lions Remix) – Tritonal
Sourface has been one of my favorite discoveries of the year – his remixes are solid, putting a laid-back spin on classic rap and hip hop. This JayZ remix is a wonderful testamant to Sourface’s production style.
10. Spectrum (Arty Remix) – Zedd
Oooh, Zedd and Arty on the same track? Yes please. I love the original Spectrum, don’t get me wrong, but Arty just takes the track to a new level that I can’t resist.
The city which hosts my Alma mater (Santa Barbara, CA) is home to a rising star – Jeff Montalvo aka Seven Lions. He’s continuing to make a pronounced stamp on the EDM scene, creating some beautiful melodic Dubstep with sophisticated production and impeccable attention to detail and musicality. The producer’s notoriety has only increased since signing with Skrillex’s OWSLA label, who today releases his Days To Come EP. They were gracious enough to allow free download of one of the standouts, “She Was” – a mixture of melodic enchantment and funky bass with surprising melodies woven in. The EP release is a solid one, and should help propel Montalvo further into the scene. Grab that free download!
If you haven’t heard of Seven Lions by now then your’e missing out on some amazing chillstep. Since his Cosmic Love Remix 6 months ago, Seven Lions has been on fire – the Polarize EP was bumpin, and every remix he’s touched since then has been killing it on hypem and around the blogosphere. His new remix is nothing short of amazing, and worth every penny on the (usually) overpriced beatport. I can’t stress this enough guys, this guy can produce chillstep. Throw him a like on facebook.
I recently had the utmost pleasure of witnessing the beauty and grace that is Florence Welch at last weekend’s Coachella Music Festival. She sounds impeccable live, and the harp-plucking instrumentation on the angelic “Cosmic Love” is unlike anything else. Thanks to Seven Lions, these gorgeous elements of the track are kept in tact, with tasteful, melodic dubstep production added into the mix. The work becomes progressively heavier by the mid-section, but never overwhelms or challenges the original beauty of the track. Grab the free download through the Seven Lions FB Bandpage.
I’ve also included “Isis”, a track off the upcoming Polarize EP – on sale over at Beatport April 23rd.