It's difficult to describe what a process paring down this month's recommendations from the Indie Discotheque collective into fifteen tracks was like. I'm confident some of you reading this will immediately write me off for placing Poppy, of all people (robots?) at the top of September's chart, but read on and I'll explain. I also have tracks like HEALTH's collaboration with Soccer Mommy (who saw that one coming?) which seemed like this blip on the radar that was put out there and only a few paid any attention to, and new music from Metric to listen to this month, a song which truly belongs among the synths. Let's dive into this pool and enjoy both ends because this month the pool party was over capacity.
1. Poppy - Time Is Up feat. Diplo
Hear me out on this one. The top song of the month isn't just a Poppy song, and aside from an in the background backing vocal and a consulting role as the owner of Mad Decent, Poppy's label, Diplo barely deserves that feature label on it either. This song has Vaughn Oliver, aka U-Tern, half of the duo Oliver, all over it. This is an Oliver song through and through, and it is so apparent.
When this track was posted to Soundcloud there was an uproar because his producer credit wasn't even mentioned, and comments started pouring in declaring this track was either a complete rip-off of the Oliver sound or Vaughn wrote the song and wasn't given credit. Granted, there are ghost producers all over the music industry but rarely do ghost producers have a sound as distinctive as that of Oliver. You simply can't claim to be anonymous.
After a day or two, Vaughn Oliver was added to the "Time Is Up" song credits as "additional production" (LOL, right?) and Oliver reposted it to their band account. Enjoy this new track by Oliver, featuring Poppy on vox, as promoted by Diplo and his label.
2. Conro - Trippin
For the most part, I ignore all that is Monstercat because they tend to embrace everything I can't stand about modern directions in electronic music, but occasionally they have artists with a song or two that stand out. This is the case with Conro, whose awesome logo aside, put out a couple of tracks in September that are worth your time. Between "Trippin," with its juicy synth licks and falsetto vocal treatment, and his electro house cover of Earth, Wind, and Fire's "September," we have a lot to enjoy.
3. Jaguar Dreams - Just Life
"Just Life" opens slowly with grand, heavy synth stabs and immediately conjures thoughts about great synth ballads like "Someone Great." This is a song that accomplishes this kind of larger than life atmosphere, and does it well. Jaguar Dreams is a new band from Brooklyn that claims they want to sound like everybody, that life is a collective experience, and we are all in this together. The fact they can claim to be this, yet still maintain a niche sound oozing with beautiful synth work is remarkable. My eyes are open.
4. Metric - Now or Never Now
I've been waiting a long time for new music from Metric and I'm so happy they've chosen this song to be one of their singles. The whole album is out now, and its worth a listen, but this is the song that best captures what I enjoy most about this band. It's a steady groove with feeling, and while we have trademark guitar work woven throughout the song, it's the arpeggiation and the warmth of the synth chords that really pull everything together.
5. Sharam Jey - Fridaycity feat. Little Boots
Sharam Jey is back with his Nu Disco flavor but this time around we get some wonderful synth work layered with a vocal by Little Boots. She really gets us in the zone with this one, the crooning she does before singing "Friday in the city" really conjures up Outrun imagery in the brain and makes you want to drive fast cars while dressed to impress.
6. Eric Copeland - 321 Contact
There is a whole lot of "Weapon of Choice" feel to this track, but it's simply in the arpeggiations. While the former is a banger, "321 Contact" is a minimalistic masterpiece. The vocal style is fascinating as if the swamp man is gurgling to us from the shores of the wetlands, but he's playing minimal wave punk from 1983.
7. Cadre Cola - Our Love (Louis La Roche Remix)
I can't get over the improvement in Louis La Roche's production style recently. While this isn't the most unique song on the block this month, its the clarity of sound and the way you can hear different tones and temperatures through a compressed SoundCloud stream like this. It's difficult to pull off normally, and I'm very much looking forward to his upcoming releases.
8. GV Grace - Fuck Golf
I don't really have anything against golf, but this is a fun synthpop song that really draws you in. I love music like this, with such a teasing atmosphere and simple dancefloor beats, synths that accentuate and add without being a distraction. This video for this track is fantastic as well.
9. Donbor - Burn Inside
Feel the onslaught that is "Burn Inside" by Donbor, an Argentinian artist that has a number of tracks to his name already. This track is a no holds barred anthem of determination, ripe for a movie soundtrack. If you're not ready for it, this song will pound you, but the balance accomplished between the lows and highs, the twinkling synths in the upper registers, and deep, brooding synth laid as a foundation to it all, all maintain clarity throughout.
10. 696XY - Y.O.N.A
This is a beautiful ballad with a machine tuned vocal that has a lot of modern production sensibility to it. It's a merging of the modern retro movement and today's R&B by artists like The Weeknd. You simply can't ignore the impact of merging these styles. These days when everything has cyan and magenta imagery and some "80s" thrown in, this track stands out.
11. Funk LeBlanc - Freddie Prinze Junior Prom
The title of the track alone is imagery enough, but this synthpop jam has an amazing feel that conjures up old times listening to New Order and Erasure, with a vocal style and synth work that really gives you the warm fuzzies all around. Funk LeBlanc's music isn't typically this way, so it's a pleasure to hear him reach out and explore some different styles.
12. Luxar - Move On feat. Delfy
"Move On" is a completely unexpected song from Luxar that pulls from the pinnacle of 80s female pop music, with Delfy giving us a convincingly authentic performance in the likes of Tiffany or even early Madonna.
13. Ani Glass - Peirianwaith Perffaith
The immediate impact presented to us tells us that this song has a journey to take us on, and once we're into the beat we are fully immersed into this gorgeous pitch-bent synth solo. It's a moody song with an ethereal vocal style, a song I'd swirl to on a dark, smoke-filled dancefloor.
14. HEALTH - Mass Grave feat. Soccer Mommy
There are all kinds of great trios out there in the world but here's one we never expected: HEALTH, Soccer Mommy, and production from Corin Roddick of Purity Ring. This is HEALTH at its finest, dark, heavy synth work, the echo effect to the extreme, conveying the most open of cathedrals, declarations of love burning and mistaken pain.
15. Felsmann & Tiley - August
Technically released at the end of August, this track is a portrait of looking across the horizons, a sky awash in color, darkness rising from that which is aflame. It's an epic synth journey with such a limited running time. I'd love to have this idea expanded into a beat-driven marathon of a song.