Northern Lights - Zeds Dead

Canadian music duo Dylan Mamid and Zachary Rapp-Roven, better known as Zeds Dead, released their first full length album, Northern Lights, on October 14th. Zeds Dead has been making music since 2009, with this first official album being the culmination of multiple smaller EP’s and singles that have seen the duo progress both in terms of reputation and production quality. Northern Lights is a huge fifteen track project full of big-name features like Diplo, Elliphant, Pusha T, Rivers Cuomo and NGHTMRE. The project also highlights the incredible range of Zeds Dead production ability with almost every song touching a different genre of EDM. The album was released under Zeds Dead’s own label, Deadtracks, helping the homegrown label get off the ground with a major release. I’ll be highlighting several tracks in this review.

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Track Reviews

The album opens with “Stardust”, a song which was released as a single earlier in 2016. This song gives us a look into more of the modern day Zeds Dead. Featuring vocals by Twin Shadow, “Stardust” is an excellent first song because it offers a little something for every type of fan, great production quality paralleling vocals.

The second track off this album, “Blame”, was also released as a single earlier this year and is without a doubt the most popular song on this album. Featuring the incredibly successful DJ-Singer pairing of Diplo and Elliphant, this song was going to be a huge hit from the start. These days, it seems that everything Diplo touches turns to gold and it’s no different here. “Blame” is a song that has been played all year, and it’s inclusion on this album will only increase the popularity of both the song and the album as a whole.

Too Young” featuring Rivers Cuomo and Pusha T continues this streak of feel good tracks. Highlighted with a lovely hook by Weezer frontman Cuomo and a constant old school sounding beat, this song would fit in almost any 70’s or 80’s show or film.

Dimemories” is a track that isn’t one to win any awards in terms of popularity, however in terms of actual production value this was a personal favorite of mine. This slow building, ghostly track is full of incredible individual moments and offers a time to reflect on the massive variation from what the listener has heard on the previous tracks. With a beautiful guitar chord progression and fading female vocals, “Dimemories” progresses into a bit of a grimy section as is typical with the artist but slowly fades out into this ominous vibe with the vocals just fading in and out, definitely giving a great listening experience.

Neck and Neck” brings us back to this upbeat feeling that much of the album has had. We are given vocals by Dragonette with a electro-heavy beat that complements the feminine vocals very well. The song builds into a euphoric, spacey, high pitched drop that fades in and out with Dragonette’s vocals which add a graceful feeling to the track

With a slow-building yet satisfying drop that features a fading drop and vocals by Lips, “This is Me” continues off the same vibes as “Neck and Neck”. This track progresses the feeling that this is really a complete project by the duo. One really feels like they’ve felt the gambit of emotions given off through the production.

Because of the classic piano and rock drum kit leading into a violin infused build overlaced with vocals by Charlotte OC, “Symphony” opens with a very organic feel to it. The beginning of this song, although somber, builds into a beautifully smooth drop with the violin beat being replaced with a heavier synth. This track merges both a jazz sound and an electric sound into a combination that really sat well with me. Certainly one of my favorite tracks off this project.

Overall

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album. Northern Lights really highlights the range that Zeds Dead have gained over their seven years as a duo. This album has something for everyone. I can imagine the heavier tracks making their way to the duo’s club sets, while the more upbeat tracks seem to be better off for an individual listening experience. I would absolutely suggest this album to anyone who is into electronic music or those wanting a first taste. This album has something for everyone

Rating: 8/10

Favorite Tracks: Blame, Me No Care, Frontlines, Dismemberance, Symphony