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Band to Check Out: The Weeknd

I am trying to find the words to describe the various movements going on in music today–movements such as electronica, low-fi and dubstep.

Words, I can’t find but what I find interesting is that even thought these genres stand tall in their own right, musicians are still out there improving upon them–artists still mix genres and styles to create something unique that they can call their own.

The Weeknd is a toronto based R&B singer who wonderfully incorporates lowfi backtracks and subtle electronics to his songs that give them a very surreal and intimate feeling–traits that you want to find in an R&B track.

His tracks have that home-grown feelings that appeals not only to R&B fans but to indie fans as well. So, if you thought indie music was only for hipsters and folks who drink PBR you were surely mistaken. Indie simply means homegrown, self created–a style that promotes expression and freedom. That being said “underground”, indie music and the internet music community seems to be embracing this indie R&B style. Artists are emerging such as The Weeknd who have this very unique R&B meets electronica feel to them. (See also Frank Ocean and How To Dress Well).

R&B is notorious for being a narrative style art, an art that includes great melodies but also great stories–and Weeknd surely has that on tap.

Weeknds break out mixtape House of Balloons, that was endorsed by musicians such as Drake, was a surefire hit. The group has a knack for creating atmosphere for every track–and that atmosphere seems to be a spaced out, drug induced atmosphere where the singer is in a perpetual spiral and isn’t sure if he hates it or loves it–but he clings to it–he identifies with it.

As you listen to the mix tape you can envision a post-party atmosphere, a hazy environment–the singer wakes up off the floor surrounded by half dead strangers and empty beer bottles–coke residue still on the glass coffee table–he is unsure about his life and seems to regret his choices but it’s all that he knows, so he keeps living this lifestyle.

The mix tape is straight out of a 1980’s Bret Easton Ellis novel. Ellis often wrote about the cocaine trends in the 80’s, he would watch his friends become ghosts at high profile parties and watch them struggle to find themselves the following morning–trying to remember who they were amidst the post party downfall, crawling hung over and crashing from the drugs.

Such a similar atmosphere is found in Weeknds tracks. Songs like Glass Table Girls are clearly about coke, while other tracks are about break ups, mistakes, and using sex and drugs as a means of numbing inner turmoils.

Weeknds song content is raw–it’s real–and it’s powerful.

Even the track names tell a story–with names such as Coming Down and The Party and After Party. The whole mix tape reads like a novel–the singer is telling you of his escapades, his regretful party nights, and his terrifying drug experiences.

What makes their content successful isn’t just the narrative lyrics–but also the instrumental tracks and production styles.  Weekends instrumentals create this “open space” and this space puts the emphasis on the emotive vocals and lyrics. You get this “space” via reverb, echo effects, and soft electronic that’s mixed with traditional r&b sounds. It becomes a surreal and intimate experience that instantly draws you in, whether you like it or not.

One track getting a lot of attention right now is Wicked Games, a song about the singer leaving his girl–and drowning his confusion, sorrow, and guilt with drugs and sex.

Deep down he knows what he did wasn’t right–his girl didn’t do a thing wrong–but he left her, and he will dabble in drugs and promiscuity to keep himself from thinking of the wrongs he has committed. At one point in the song he is begging a stripper  to tell him that she loves him–even if she doesn’t–he just needs her to justify his behavior..his flawed thought process.

He is singing that he needs “off of this”off of this life, off of this downward spiral, but in the same breath, he needs all of it too. He needs all of it to keep his sanity, and to keep his mind from veering off into the reality that he keeps hidden by the drug abuse and sex.

So, that being said, he accepts the high of this lifestyle fully and remains in this state in order to escape his flawed reality.

..told you it was intense.

Listening to a track by The Weeknd  you learn more about the singer, and listening to the mix tape is like reading a novel–you get to know the singer through and through, and you actually start to feel for the guy–even if he seems to enjoy the downward spiral.

So enjoy the current R&B trend. Check out The Weeknds Wicked Games or download the free mix tape from their website here.

It can get intense, but it’s surely something fresh and something that you can’t help but appreciate.

Image courtesy of The Weeknd

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