Times when I’ve listened to SebastiAn #coachella2012

Here are some times when I have listened to SebastiAn. They are fairly random.

  1. Mowing the lawn back in 2007 when I first discovered the Ross Ross Ross EP. He made some of the only music that had dynamics mad enough to be heard through my headphones over the lawnmower’s engine.
  2. Waiting anxiously for the Daft Punk Alive 2007 show to begin. He opened alongside Kavinsky. It was a great set, but a great set doesn’t really compete when the GREATEST SHOW IN THE WORLD is coming on in a couple hours (and after Ratatat, who also opened the show.)
  3. Walking  around Vienna this summer. His new album came out with relatively little hype (then again, I had relatively little computer access this summer), and I remember being surprised when it showed up in my feeds. It’s a good album. Will totally blow out your eardrums if you let it.

Really hope I can catch his set at Coachella this year. I feel like I might have caught a bit of him at Coachella before, maybe during an Ed Rec block of time in the Sahara, who knows…

Sebastian – Ross Ross Ross

Justice – A Cross the Universe

justice and the sweet atmosphere that accompanies the show
justice and the sweet atmosphere that accompanies the show

Who puts out a live CD/DVD combo when they’ve only released one LP and a couple EPs? I mean, it’s not like a headlining electronic act could build an entire show off of one album… Unless of course, it’s Justice we’re talking about.

Instead of going over the history of Justice, which you probably already know, let’s jump right into the track-by-track (I’ve combined some tracks that are split into two on the CD).

  1. Intro (?/5) – Like listening to people screaming in anticipation? Then put this track on repeat for a few hours. I can’t really rate it because it’s just an intro track.
  2. Genesis (4/5) – Those horns… There might not be a better way to begin the live show. They’re mean, ugly, and they perfectly symbolize what Justice has done to dance music. As much as the Intro track is a welcoming to the live show when siting on your couch, Genesis is the intro to the live show when you’re on your feet and the lights just went out. It does it’s job well, but it suffer from a problem that runs through the entire show: Justice can’t find a groove to let people dance to (I’ll elaborate later).
  3. Phantom Part I & I.5 (4/5) – Genesis dies out, and that infamous synth line comes in. Right from the get-go, Justice is chopping the track up with the “boom-kat-boom-kat” drums that are featured in all their songs. Part I is a straightforward Phantom Pt I, and Part I.5 is more Phantom Pt I as an segway to D.A.N.C.E. It jumps back and forth between Phantom and a spacy kinda-arped synth; it serves as a way to slow the show down a bit.
  4. D.A.N.C.E. Part I & II (4/5) – Beginning with the acapella vocals, D.A.N.C.E. Part I leaves behind the funky groove that usually accompanies these vocals (a piano does eventually join in). No problem, acapella basically means sing-a-long to the audience, and it works pretty well seeing as everyone knows the lyrics. Part I ends by speeding up and giving into the faster, more eletro-oriented Part II. I have no idea what hardware Justice uses to get these unbelievable synths, but the one that comes with Part II is brand new and amazing. It really carries Part II through it’s 3 minute extension of Part I. These two parts of D.A.N.C.E. are perfect evidence of why Justice has been able to turn a 40 minute LP into an hour and a half live show.
  5. DVNO (4/5) – Losing no momentum, DVNO comes in with the same synth that went with D.A.N.C.E. Part II. I hated this song on the album at first, but the radio edit and this live version have converted me. The vocals aren’t sluggish and abrasive anymore, they’re smooth and provide another sing-a-long. This track undergoes it’s fair share of chopping and splicing (thanks to Ableton Live, I believe).
  6. Waters of Nazareth (Prelude) (3/5) – This track serves as a quasi-extension to keep the audience interested without becoming fatigued. It isn’t really Waters of Nazareth, but some small parts of the song are mixed in. There are some vocals included I don’t recognize, but they aren’t a big part of the song. It’s only a two minute segway, and 15 seconds of it are the break down that lead into One Minute to Midnight.
  7. One Minute to Midnight (3/5) – One of the most interesting tracks on the LP to me. It didn’t receive much attention, but it’s cool in a different way than the rest of the songs. Unfortunately, it’s also used as a semi-segway to the next song in the live show.
  8. Tthhee Ppaarrttyy (0/5) – Call me a hater, but this track should never have been included on the album. Just because Uffie is a label-mate of Justice doesn’t mean that she’s necessary. Luckily for Justice, there are a TON of people who do love this song. The crowd roars throughout the whole thing.
  9. Let There Be Light (5/5) – The name of this track couldn’t be more appropriate here. It begins at a snails pace and builds to its true tempo of over 120 bpm. This song and the synths that come along with it seem to want to rip each other to shreds from start to finish. There are high-pitched repeated screaming sounds contrasted against a super-low grinding bass that somehow come together with the same drums that are in all the songs. I guess to showcase some of their remixes, Justice also includes a small sample from their remix of Scenario Dance’s Skitzo Dancer. You know, the one where it says “disco” over and over and over.
  10. Stress (4/5) – Some reviews call this the highlight of the show. I disagree. While this “Auto Remix” of Stress is quite a feat in how much it differs from the original while still maintaining it’s tones (of stress), it doesn’t ever really go anywhere. It builds, and builds, and builds, but when the drums hit, they just seem awkward and don’t reach that climax that electronic tracks are meant to. The bouncing strings are awesome, but again, they don’t go anywhere. At the end of the song, the bass line from We Are Your Friends comes in.
  11. We Are Your Friends (Reprise) (5/5) – If I called D.A.N.C.E. and DVNO sing-a-longs, they are nothing compared to We Are Your Friends. As Justice’s first single as a remix of Simian’s Never Be Alone, it’s what begun the never-ending hype that surrounds Justice. Instead of playing the vocals in their entirety, Justice just plays the first word of each line and lets the audience finish it. The gimmick works, and the live recording captures the beck-and-call perfectly. In my opinion, this is Justice’s happiest song. It’s dead simple in its construction, and the distortion and grit that is in the rest of their songs is no where to be found (except when they go into the Metallica song…)
  12. Waters of Nazareth (5/5) – This is the real Waters of Nazareth. While We Are Your Friends is Justice’s happiest track, this is without a doubt their angriest. It’s the first Justice song I ever heard, and at the time it convinced me that Justice was an industrial-dance duo. Justice has turned the public’s perception of electronic music on its head. No longer do you have to be in a club listening to “unst-unst-unst” bobbing our head all night. Now you can be at a street festival with thousands of people doing some amalgamation of dancing, jumping, and moshing. Justice might be a fad (it’s seeming less and less likely though), but the closest thing I can compare them to is The Prodigy.
  13. Phantom Pt II (5/5) – Forget Stress, Phantom Pt II is the real climax of this album and of the live show. It’s what everyone has wanted to hear all night, and when it comes up to speed, everyone basically goes apeshitcrazy. This version of the song is a mix of the original, the Soulwax remix, and I believe the Boys Noize remix. It’s as close to perfect as you can get. It would be perfect if it didn’t have that damn lady talking in random spots. Forgetting the lady, I love this song. I’ve listened to it way too many times. It brings be back to when I saw Justice at Street Scene earlier this year in the same way that the Encore song from Daft Punk’s Alive 2008 album brings me back to when I saw them last year.
  14. Encore We Are Your Friends (Piano) – It’s a short song that brings in the encore. Nothing special.
  15. NY Excuse – Honestly, I don’t really like this song. It’s really interesting, but I think it takes too long to get where it wants to go, and when it gets there, it sounds like it’s trying to be We Are Your Friends + Justice distortion, but it falls short (run-on sentence, I know).
  16. Final Metalica – Bringing Metallica to an electro show is pretty much what Justice is about. It’s a good final song. They pump up the 4/4 beats and speed it up; it closes the show nicely.

Overall, I think I’d give the album a 4/5. That last point is lost to the fact that Gaspard and Xavier don’t frequent dance floors. Only in Phantom Part II does the live show give the audience a groove to dance to. In other places it tries, but the songs are cut short by breakdowns or transitions that leave the beat out. To bring up the Daft Punk comparison, I feel that this was something that Daft Punk did flawlessly. They know how an audience reacts to certain songs. They understand that fatigue sets in when you leave the energy too high too long. I hope that Justice can learn these things over time and improve their sets accordingly.


Cochella 2008: Justice

justicethumb.jpgSo here we are again with Justice. In case you’ve forgotten, I wrote a post about Justice for last year’s Coachella, but way too much has happened in the past year for me to ignore these “third-liners” (they were “bottom-liners” last year).

So what did I say last year about Justice?

Anyone up for a French house DJ duo? No, I’m not talking about Daft Punk; I’m talking about Justice. Of the entire artist lineup being pushed by Ed Banger Records right now, Justice is getting the best and most press attention (guess I’m feeding the flame.) Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay are the current heroes of French house music.

Back to now: all of the above is still true (and more). These two are still the kings of electro, but they are anything but alone in the genre. This past year we have seen DJs like Boys Noize, Para One (and the rest of the Institubes crew), SebastiAn & Kavinsky (and the Ed Banger crew) all tour nonstop and put out some great remixes. Justice is no longer the unique sounding duo that they were last year, but the release of their debut LP Cross has kept them on top.

Instead of relying on the distorted electro sound that brought them up, Justice has become a genre-crossing mix of disco, electro, pop, and rock. The worldwide phenomenon of electro has contributors popping up all over the globe, and the backlash has been just as great as the support.

This year at Coachella, look forward to a brand new live show (remember last year? they played Cross in its entirety)… Busy P sounds pretty pumped for these guys, and I will not be missing them this year (unless they are pitted against Roger Waters).

Justice Music Videos / Live Stuff

Boys Noize – Oi Oi Oi

It’s been some time since I’ve reviewed any music (the Neighborhood Fest doesn’t count), so here goes. You might be surprised to hear that this distortion-electro artist called Boys Noize is German. If you aren’t, then you need to do some reading up on modern electro artists (I have quite a bit of stuff written here, just look around). France is all over the house/electro scene right now. Back to the CD.

It’s quite good. DJ Alexander Rihda aka Boys Noize is making music very similar to SebastiAn and some of Justice’s earlier EP stuff. Possibly comparable to MSTRKRFT if they used more effects to rip apart their hard but pristine sound. This album Oi Oi Oi is similar in sound to his already released EPs. It’s a very hard, rough sound that is conveyed through the deep bass hits overlayed by heavily distorted synth riffs. There’s a bit of glitch thrown into the mix too. Look at the album cover (a disco skull), it exemplifies the sound perfectly.

The songs throughout the album start off great. The trouble that I have is that they all don’t amount to something. You can have a great intro with the bass dropped out and slam in with the effects and everything, but the song needs to go somewhere. I feel like trance has a good grasp of the rises and falls, but sometimes the majority of the time trance DJs overdo it (especially in long live sets). Songs like “Don’t Believe the Hype” and “Oh” are really great songs because they have the synths come and go with new elements being introduced through the songs. Songs like “Shine Shine” and “Vergiftet” just don’t cut it for me.

Overall, it’s a really good record, and the remixes that he’s done are amazing as well. Oi Oi Oi doesn’t really measure up to the likes of Ross Ross Ross from start to finish though.

Ed Banger Records (Part 1)

Ed Banger Crew
the heavy hitters of the Ed Banger crew

There is no use in disputing the point: Ed Banger Records is the king of electro. EdRec’s superb lineup consists of (left to right in the picture) Feadz, SebastiAn, Vicarious Bliss, Uffie, Busy P, So Me, DJ Mehdi, and Justice (not pictured: Krazy Baldhead and Mr. Flash). As of now, I cannot say that there is a single artist that I dislike. Each artist has a unique sound that doesn’t attempt to mimic any other artist on the label (or any other artist in general). Enjoy! (Part 1 consists of Busy P, Feadz, Justice, Mr. Flash, and SebastiAn)

in alphabetical order… also, please click on the artist’s names to go to a HypeMachine search for their music…

Busy P
Busy P: owner of Ed Banger Records

Busy P: How fitting he is the first on this list. Busy P, aka Pedro Winter, is a DJ/producer, manager of Daft Punk and Justice, and owner of Ed Rec. It is safe to assume that whatever Busy P touches turns, not to gold, but to platinum immediately. While I could speak on Daft Punk for pages (and I will in a coming post), Busy P’s music is more important right now. He sticks alongside what the label is known for: French electro house. It’s not as grimy or as disco as Justice, not as punch-you-in-the-face as SebastiAn, but the sound definitely holds its own against P’s label-mates.

Feadz: member of Ed Recs crew & boyfriend of Uffie

Feadz: Aside from being Uffie’s love interest, he is also her producer. The majority of his current material has been released through Uffie. Pre-Uffie, he worked with Mr. Oizo on Analog Worms Attack (a sweet album if I may say so). The beats he lays down for Uffie are characterized by their stuttered distorted nature. It sounds as if Feadz takes each and every sample and cuts/chops/pastes them into any mashup that resembles a semi-ordered form to create his music.

Justice: do you need an explanation? they're huge.

Justice: The constant praise coming from all sides about this DJ duo hasn’t seemed to slowed down since their first EP Waters of Nazareth was released a little over a year ago in June of 2006. They take whatever material they are given (or make up) and filter it to sound like heavy metal had a head on collision with disco funk. Like many of Ed Rec’s artists, Justice are amazing remix artists as well as superb at creating original material. Their recently released debut LP titled † is varied and remains true to Justice’s signature style resulting in an album that will stay in rotation for quite some time. Reading about Justice in popular magazines signifies that electronic music might be able to become mainstream once again.

Mr. Flash
Mr. Flash: member of Ed Recs

Mr. Flash: From what I’ve heard (which isn’t much), Mr. Flash mixes electro with tweaked hip hop and a tad of disco thrown in for flavor. The song Disco Dynamite which is featured on Ed Rec Vol. 2 is one of my favorite songs on the compilation album. He’s been producing music for TTC since about 1999, and had an mix-comp titled Monsieur Sexe come out in 2005. A slew of EPs and remixes have followed, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on much.

SebastiAn: amazing remixer

SebastiAn: My favorite artist on Ed Rec. His album RossRossRoss is something I put on only when I can’t be uninterrupted with the volume at max. He is probably the best remixer I have ever come across, and Daft Punk has said that his remix for Human After All was the best remix that they had ever commissioned. What he does to songs isn’t really fair. In terms of remixes, he makes the original artist sound like an amateur. In terms of his own music, it’s so aggressive that you might have to have stitches after listening to just one track. It’s glitchy, distorted, stuttered, and sounds like he took each sample and filtered out the highs and lows leaving the mids (and then ripped them to shreds). Please listen to anything of his.

There you have it, Part 1 of the two part series on Ed Banger Records.

Kanye West’s Daft Punk-aided Stronger video

I am no fan of Kanye West. Let it be known before you dive headfirst into this intriguing column of mine. He is cocky and irreverent of any other musical artist on the scene. Remember when he ran onstage to ruin Justice and Simian’s award for “We Are Your Friends”? No? Well that was my last straw, and the video is after the jump.

So, this new video for Kanye West’s song “Stronger” has been talked about for a long time. It has a Daft Punk sample! It’s an expensive video! It’s off his new album! Directed by Hype Williams! Too bad the video amounts to some eye candy and a plot just as confusing as Justin Timerlake’s “SexyBack”… Putting Daft Punk in BOTH your song and video is quite a feat, but it won’t get you video of the year.

The video features some futuristic looking animation with Kanye being reborn by some kind of a Matrix-type machine. It looks cool, but it’s a bit literal of a translation of the song title. Like I said, Daft Punk is sweet anywhere they are placed. Kudos for that one. The sun(?)glasses are equally awsome; I wish I had some. Here is the part that frustrates me: the lack of continuity. There are some great scenes, but they don’t amount to anything. The video for “Jesus Walks” was amazing because it told a story (all three versions were powerful). I don’t feel that there is anything holding “Stronger” together.

Justice – †

Justice - † This might be completely ridiculous on my part, but I still haven’t decided (for myself) whether Justice really is Christan or if they are just playing the part. Now as to this new LP coming out in about a month titled “†”, I think I might have found a bootleg floating around somewhere, and I might have a review right here for you! A song by song review can be found about 1 centimeter below:

  1. Genesis (7/10): A nice opening track. The intro to the song was what they opened Coachella with (I believe). The beat is strong throughout, it could have done with a bit more variation or development of the samples used. Good track, not their best.
  2. Let There Be Light (8/10): Once again, good track. I’m glad that they put one of the tracks that develops with an industrial edge right up front on the record. This track was released on the Waters of Nazareth EP.
  3. D.A.N.C.E. (9/10): The current single floating around right now. Probably the most catchy song to be found by Justice. I don’t know where they found this sample, but it is genius. The way that they can mix a catchy beat perfectly with a chopped vocal sample is amazing. Hints of disco or funk tidbits begin to show themselves here.
  4. New Jack (6/10): This song just doesn’t do too much for me. The samples seem too mix/matched; there isn’t any continuity among them. It has all of the driving forces that Justice is known for, but their choice of samples here falls short. The warble comes in at an inappropriate time, and it stays too long. Not a fav.
  5. Phantom Pt. 1 (10/10): Following New Jack with Phantom Pt. 1 brought my spirits up. Phantom Pt. 1 was released on the D.A.N.C.E. EP, and it is by far my favorite track on †. Just turn it up in your best pair of headphones, and you will see why I say this. Talk about a rockin’ electro track. The sample used here has been identified as being from Goblin’s Tenebre. After comparing the original track to Phantom Pt. 1, it is safe to say that this is in no way a rip off of another artist’s work. The sample has been chopped to pieces and put together in a truly Justice-esque manner.
  6. Phantom Pt. 2 (9/10): The first time listening to this track, you will probably be confused. It seems overly random. The good news? Once you actually get the tune, this song rocks. It carries over the industrial overtones of Pt. 1 and adds some disco flavor into the mix. Great track.
  7. Valentine (7/10): “Valentine”, to me, seems like a very long intro to “The Party”. It is a good track, but doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose. It’s stuck in here. Not needed. Also, is it just me or does it sound like they sampled Britney Spears’ “Me Against the Music”? I speak of the airy noise at the beginning. I know it could come from anywhere, it just that it reminds me of that song.
  8. The Party (7/10): A song with actual lyrics that don’t sound like they are sampled (because they aren’t). I’m not sure who sings, but the lyrics are meant for a party song (hence the title). The problem is that there isn’t too much music to go along with the fun lyrics. The music seems like a continuation of “Valentine”. It could use a bit more of a kick. Sounds like Three 6 Mafia is sampled here.
  9. DVNO (6/10): While so many people are praising the vocals of this track, I can’t stand them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t reject vocals off the bat if they are falsettos. I reject them if they don’t sound good. Compiling this problem is the fact that they drop the music out in the middle of the track; now I have nothing to distract me from the horrible vocals. The music itself isn’t half bad. It’s a mixture of their signature distorted beats and disco stabs. Least favorite track on the record.
  10. Stress (8/10): The title of this song is really evident is the music. The tension of the song is heightened by the high pitched strings that can be heard throughout the track. I really do like this song though. The last strands of disco are evident here. They are minor, but they contribute all the same.
  11. Waters of Nazareth (10/10): Second favorite track on the record. This was the first song by Justice that I ever heard. After hearing it, I had Justice categorized as an industrial group. Definitely wrong. This song rocks from start to finish. The distorted samples kill your ears without relenting for a second. If you can’t stand the first 10 seconds, get out, the song just compiles on top of itself from there on. Pure electro joy.
  12. One Minute To Midnight (9/10): A great closing track; “One Minute to Midnight” closes much better than “Genesis” opened. A slight downer track with a sweet baseline that makes you rock back and forth. It lets you calm down after the massive electro explosion that happened during the previous track. Continuous and true to Justice, it is a nice way to end this musical journey.

† is set to be released on June 11, 2007 on Ed Banger Records.

Coachella 2007: Justice


Anyone up for a French house DJ duo? No, I’m not talking about Daft Punk; I’m talking about Justice. Of the entire artist lineup being pushed by Ed Banger Records right now, Justice is getting the best and most press attention (guess I’m feeding the flame.) Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay are the current heroes of French house music, and let me explain why.The biggest thing going for them right now is the fact that they sound nothing like any other music out right now. Unfortunately, their sound is probably fairly easy to replicate, but as long as they can innovate and keep evolving their music, they have a solid chance at reigning as house kings pretty soon. So what is this sound that they are pioneering? In my opinion, it is a blending of heavily distorted samples, sick chopped beats, and an amazing balance between repetition and progression through a song. Another comparison to Daft Punk: they are geniuses when it comes to choosing the right samples to sample.Many of you might have recently read/heard of the samples that Daft Punk has used to make their songs. While Daft Punk does credit the artists taken from, after listening to each song and the sample taken from the song, it is fairly disappointing how heavily Daft Punk does rely on these samples. I do not believe that Justice will fall victim to this type of backlash due to the fact that their songs have so much more to them than repetitive samples. Smart.An interesting fact: Justice hasn’t released an LP yet! So far, we only have compilation albums put out by Ed Banger and a single EP from Justice. Their debut album is set to be released in June 2007.At Coachella, it is unfortunate that they will not be playing at night (just rumors right now, no set-list yet.) From what I have seen on YouTube, they have amazingly energetic shows with great lighting. I love it.update: Justice will be playing at 8:30pm, which conflicts with many other bands I want to see…

Justice – Waters of Nazareth

Justice - Waters of NazarethIt really isn’t fair. Chopped up samples that have been distorted and modulated to no end shouldn’t sound this good. Honestly, they shouldn’t be able to get away with this. Enough of the complaining, the point is: Justice hits you hard… in the face. From the moment you press play, you get a noise that makes you wish that you had bought another stereo with just a few more watts; you can’t ever get the bass heavy enough or the volume loud enough.

So, what genre does this three track EP fall into? My personal analysis is that it is a fusion of some kind of electro-clash, industrial, and house. It seems that every synth/sample has been run through some kind of distorting filter that makes it scream with fury, every drum line kicks a little more than anything before, and that repetition is the name of the game. As with many of the artists signed to the Ed Banger record label, Daft Punk seems an obvious comparison. Both are original, progressive, a duo, French, and insanely popular.

Whether this quick claim to fame through an EP is founded in any way is yet to be seen. But please don’t get me wrong; even with only 3 tracks, Justice won’t be leaving my playlists anytime soon.

Justice – Phantom Part I