Soundclouds of the Underground: Kings of Catchy Edition

Published April 24, 2014

ABOVE: DONCHRISTIAN. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAM JONES.

These days, music truly lives online, with an infinite number of websites dedicated to hosting tunes for the laptop-wielding masses. However, the web’s bottomless pit of blogs isn’t the only place to troll for mp3 treasures—some of the newest and most exciting (Internet-friendly) artists can be sought out via Soundcloud, the online stage that allows musicians to promote and distribute their music to fans and friends across the globe. In this weekly column, expert Internet sleuth Alex Chapman goes into the depths of the music-sharing site, in hopes of shedding light on emerging acts, as well as sharing some digital diamonds in the rough.

At SCOTU we are attracted to all sorts of tracks for all sorts of reasons, but perhaps our kryptonite comes in the form of songs that are just too damn catchy to deny. Whether it’s outstanding production, a chorus that stays stuck in your head, or melodies that you can’t help but hum along to, the three captivating songs below have got us hook, line, and sinker.

ZHU: “The One”

Who: “Music is faceless. Let my music tell my story,” states the bio for ZHU, an otherwise anonymous outfit that combines sultry soul, nu-disco, alt dance-pop, and electronic elements to create a timely yet distinct product reflective of the R&B-hybrid dominating today’s cool music (think Disclosure, Sam Smith, and AlunaGeorge).

The Song: A track off Zhu’s new EP THE NIGHTDAY, “The One” employs the mysterious artist’s sexy falsetto as he coos over a big dance beat.  The deep house element is apparent as the addictive track moves forward, the pitched-down hook helping to maintain the song’s understated cool. Current Project:  Get to know more about ZHU via its Facebook page.

Ayer: “Black Diamond”

Who: Ayer is an artist who is quickly proving himself as a member of indie pop’s new guard, following in the footsteps of M83, Neon Indian, and CHVRCHES while formulating a path all his own. While Ayer initially got attention for brilliantly crafted breakout tracks like “Circle Down” and “Young,” the Brooklyn-based talent shows no signs of slowing down.

The Song: The breezy hook for “Black Diamond” has the affect of familiarity while being fresh, which might be how it can be so easily recalled. The song is perfectly balanced, the soft-spoken verses building to the big chorus, wherein producer Brian Kierulf pumps up the synths to make the track really simmer.

Current Project: “Black Diamond” just came out—keep an eye on Ayer’s next moves via his Facebook page.

DonChristian: “Liu Kang”

Who: Hailed by critics and fans alike as the next big thing in R&B, Philly native DonChristian is one of the premiere members of Le1f‘s Camp and Street collective, which also features producer Boody and singer Rahel. The hype has only grown since DonChristian’s recently released Renzo Piano, a beautifully eclectic album that equally relies on the artist’s rapping and singing skills.

The Song:  “Odysseus” is one of the stronger cuts from Renzo Piano, produced by column favorite Jeremiah Meece (also of Chicago groups JODY and The-Drum). The track finds DonChristian rapping in a low growl before switching to a soulful, sexy vocal for the song’s sensual chorus. Current Project: Check out the dope video for “Clerk,” and then go find out more about the multi-talented DonChristian on his website

Soundclouds of the Underground runs every Thursday. For more, click here.