Performer’s Amanda Macchia combed through this year’s Electric Forest lineup to give us her top picks for artists you gotta see. For more info, head to http://electricforestfestival.com/. This year’s event takes place June 28-July 1 in Rothbury, MI.
This 21-year-old, Detroit based DJ and electronic musician has a nose for good vinyl. Remixing hip-hop, electro-soul, and funk with futuristic swagger and deep bass, GRiZ-style dance parties honor warriors of an endless groove. Check his Soundcloud. His tracks drop disco bombs and rock punk attitudes without decontextualizing in the name of the beat. The young crate digger is a must see – an OG in a new skin – ready to take his world-inspired grooves to the next level of electronica.
It’s no surprise that Morning Teleportation was discovered by Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock. Just listen to Tiger Merritt’s voice as he sprints through verses courting a punked out, youthful nonchalance, before dropping off into a lighthearted wail. They are a mess that comes out clean, animalism pitted with thought and maybe even a little bit of soul. The band’s energy rides a mischief wave of kinetic pop, swaggering from honey-drenched folk and melodical whimsy to synthesizers that twitch and beep between twangs, growls, and a vagabondage of ’70s-style sounds.
The internationally celebrated sounds emulsified in a Nickodemus mix are unlike anything on the plane of electronica today. For some time, the native New Yorker has been traveling the world, crafting club anthems from his sonic grab bag of global music styles. While Skrillex’s eclecticism works more like a direct assault to one’s senses, Nickodemus’ ragtag flavor weaves easily within the compacted energy of his tracks, creating what he would call “music without borders.”
Elephant Revival’s twangy mountain folk is unfettered by over-instrumentation or “been-there-done-that” lyrics. Their harmonies lie naked, as bare as their purpose, a crux in the nucleus of their sound. Vocals swoon and flutter, illuminated by the fallible personage of humanity. They are elated and serene, content in the ways that their verses and instrumentation meet halfway and intertwine as they sing of the beautiful sorrows of a life lived alive. This soulful little folk act, replete with multiple fiddles and a cute girl with leather gloves on a washboard, is not to be missed.
Brass band rebel forces battle festival stages for the opportunity to make innovate headway in one of New Orlean’s strongest and most traditional genres of music. Unlike other typical acts, The Soul Rebels belt out originals with vocals, rap over horn lines, and cover popular hip-hop songs from big guns like Jay-Z and Outkast. On stage, the powerful combination of horns and live drumming gives The Soul Rebels the ability to take brass band noise to the dance floor. The Village Voice called them the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong. What’s not to love about that?
Gramatik started making beats at the tender age of 13 on a PC in Slovenia. At an early age he learned to utilize the power of the Internet and of free file sharing. Gramatik built his fan base across Europe and into the United States. Over time, the producer’s goal had come to revolve around the idea of freeing music by making music free. Pairing up with Pretty Lights Music, a label that distributes all of its releases digitally, free of charge, was the perfect fit. Chances are, if you like Pretty Lights, you’ll probably dig Gramatik. His beats are rooted in hip-hop and inspired by the old school rhythms of funk, soul, and blues.
See-I is hailed as one of the nation’s premier reggae party acts. Their original take on roots music is articulated through the lens of a progressive funk outfit, led by guitars and sax. They take reggae to a level it hasn’t yet been to, combining different vocal styles and urban music genres to create something undeniably fresh. A funky version of Caribbean instrumentalism is all it takes to get audiences dancing.
Cinematic orchestrations of electronica thrillingly plunge through dnb, rock and roll, dub, and downtempo with a keen eye on the rest of the world. Like other bands on ESL, Thunderball is widely aware of their global influences, taking you in between and around the rhythm patterns and sounds of Jamaica, Latin America, and Africa. While they aren’t entirely dance-oriented, their samples organically infiltrate themselves into the track and resonate like the best of an old-school Stax catalogue, forever in the pocket of a deep groove.
Rateliff’s vocals can twinkle with a folk-like innocence one minute, and stumble through the angry howlings of first world problems the next. There is a grown up quirkiness to his voice, and his common use of female accompanists blows his harmonies straight out of the water. Rateliff isn’t afraid to bring the darker sides of rock and roll to his music. By utilizing his voice in its manifold capacities, he creates powerful vocal soundscapes ebbed by the relative drone on his guitar. Sometimes Rateliff screams, sometimes he harmonizes, but he always sounds painstakingly heartfelt.
It may seem like your typical club beat, looped to perfection. It may very well be. There is a reason, though, that Nobody Beats The Drum is making some big splashes in the American music pool. Three men – a turntablist, a keyboardist, and a visual artist – stand before nine looming vertical panels as they flash colorful visuals, wildly illuminating the stage. Combining party favorites – disco, hip-hop, and house – techno troubadours Nobody Beats The Drum manages to create club chorales that work well in a festival environment. A spacey rave, a glitchy robotic breakdown, or the kind of buildup you anticipate ever so often during most techno tracks, all drop like bombs against deep base and the will to party hard.