Being a DJ, I obviously have an affinity for beat-based music. It’s our bread-and-butter. I grew up on a solid diet of hip hop and when I first ventured out into the world and began to fend for myself. I discovered house music, techno and drum and bass. But like most DJs, my taste in music is pretty eclectic and I don’t discriminate. If it’s good, then it’s good and that’s all there is to it.
Alternative Rock has always been a significant part of my musical diet and it was through this genre that I actually found my way to electronic music. In the early days of EDM (I use this acronym under protest) scene, programmers needed to find a way to fit in this new music and often found that the open minds of a lot of Alternative listeners were the best place to try things out.
This year I heard a lot of cool stuff that I feel is worth sharing. Just like all genres of music, Alternative has experienced a metamorphosis over the past decade. And just like all genres of music you can really hear it in the quality of the production. At least I can, especially when I play tracks from different eras in my sets.
The slow-revolution in music, which I’ve talked about in the past, has spilled over into all forms thanks in part to trap’s popularity as a response to the uptempo electro-pulsed explosion of EDM in the 2000s. I think we might be entering the final stages, but not before some solid downtempo jams from the alternative world, which is where we’re going to start things off. Two cuts that made the list have a distinct reggae-vibe which always makes slower compositions more palatable for me, and come from two of my favourite acts from the genre: Milky Chance and Cage the Elephant. The rest are my favourite tracks in the genre from the past year and a few undeniable cuts that needed mentioning.
Take a listen…
1. The Game by Milky Chance
2. Borderline by Tame Impala
3. Might Be Right by White Reaper
4. Night Running by Cage the Elephant and Beck
There was a day last spring when I received a handful of random calls from friends asking if I had the hookup for Billie Eilish tickets. A couple friends trying to win the Uncle of the Year and a Dad looking to bring home the same prize for his category. I always get club guest list requests every weekend, but this kind of weird and three different people to randomly employing this Hail Mary of a request, I knew something was up. At the time, I had heard of the young artist and thought she had a a pretty cool style, but she wasn’t on my radar and I hadn’t worked any of her stuff into my sets. Then she just absolutely exploded. TV, Sirius, and even on the bumpers of NBA games featured her music, interviews or some other types of promotion. She was everywhere. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I don’t need to tell you this. Nuff said.
5. Bad Guy by Billie Eilish
6. You? by Two Feet
7. Tongue Tied by Marshmello, YUNGBLUD & blackbear
8. Dirt in my Eyes by Cold War Kids
When I got a call from my good friend and fellow DJ, Joe Pound, earlier this year to say he had an extra ticket to Weezer and the Pixies, I initially turned down the offer. I was feeling pretty beat from a string of shows and while I love both of these bands, sometimes you gotta just chill. I told him to circle back if he couldn’t find any takers. Thankfully, he did and we mobbed to the show. What I didn’t know until we took our seats was that they were third row centre on the floor: epic. I hadn’t been this close to the action of such a big show since I was 20. The Pixies opened and played an amazing set and I was struck by the quality of the songs I was hearing for the first time. Their new stuff has the classic Pixies sound and continues their legacy of great songwriting. Seriously, these guys are like a fine wine and keep getting better with age. Drink up.
9. Catfish Kate by The Pixies
I wouldn’t say I’m a big MGK fan, but this track is worth a listen. It’s a pretty great crossover track that taps into some real emotions. Some of his finest work, in my opinion.
10. I think I’m OKAY by Machine Gun Kelly, YUNGBLUD & Travis Barker
JT James is a DJ, producer and writer based out of Vancouver, Canada. A veteran of the DJ and recording worlds. he has produced several projects in the genres of hip hop and electronic music under various aliases such as James Divine, Track Nicholson and Sandy Villanova. Be on the lookout for his upcoming single with underground hip hop legend Ras Kass and his electronic music collaboration with James Landau, in 2020.