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XLR8R's Top 20 Downloads of November

Serving as the final full month for our Downloads section in 2014, November again brought a slew of free tracks to the pages of XLR8R. Though sprinkled with a handful of remixes (from the likes of Canadian artist Project Pablo, New York's MCFERRDOG, and PC Music affiliate Maxo, among others), the month's list of top downloads is largely populated by original productions, with a wide range of beatmakers including Hackman, Deft, Brackles, OL, Real Cosby, Samuli Kemppi, and The Cyclist (pictured above) having delivered some quality tunes over the past 30 days. With December now officially underway (and 2015 not too far behind), we have compiled the list for the top 20 XLR8R downloads in November below, to soon be followed by our list for the top 100 downloads of the year, which we will begin counting down later this week. Read more » 

Hi-Five: Graze Shares the "Bittersweet Electronics" That Helped Shape the Duo's Sound

Graze burst onto the scene with a flurry of quality material in 2013, dropping a stellar self-titled EP and quickly following it up with a solid debut LP, Edges, prompting us to name the Canadian-born duo the year's best new artist. 2014 has been a little quieter for Adam Marshall and Christian Andersen, although the pair has still managed to release a handful of singles and a second LP, Soft Gamma Repeater, which dropped just this month. Graze's sound is a unique one, as the duo combines the sensibilities of the UK's hardcore continuum with a more techno-oriented framework, a hybridized approach that probably speaks to its members' varied histories with electronic music. Curious to hear more about the sounds that shaped their combined musical outlook, we got Marshall and Andersen to put together a list of tracks they described as "bittersweet classics for after the club." When asked to elaborate on the theme, the pair clarified that it was talking about "the early techno and jungle that mined the territory between sadness and decay and hopeful futurism." And though the Hi-Five series usually only asks for five selections, the boys of Graze felt inspired enough to choose a couple of extra "bonus tracks" for good measure. Read more » 

Landscaping, Micheladas, and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: 10 Things You Need to Know About Lawrence

Over the last 12 years, Hamburg, Germany's Peter M. Kersten has quietly built a cult following with a constant string of house-meets-techno-meets-ambient releases under the Lawrence and Sten guises. Teasing out the strands of low-slung Detroit house (think Theo Parrish and Peacefrog Records) and mixing them with Pop Ambient-style abstraction, Kersten weaves aural tapestries that flit between intense headphone listening and subdued dancefloor escapes—often in the course of the same track. His most recent release as Lawrence, A Day in the Life, is a near-beatless excursion—what Kersten refers to as a "buddy record." This week, it's being released on his friend Toshiya Kawasaki's revered Tokyo imprint Mule Musiq, featuring artwork by another friend, Stefan Marx, who does all of the covers for Kersten's Smallville label. To mark the occasion—and help educate anyone who's unaware of Kersten's many past accomplishments—we prodded the producer/DJ on his professional past, his current obsessions, and the many other projects he has on the go. Read more » 

Jackie's House: Steffi

Given XLR8R's San Francisco roots, Jackie House (a.k.a. Honey Soundsystem co-founder Jacob Sperber) is someone we've known for quite some time. Besides throwing some of the city's best parties, Jackie can always be counted upon to deliver whip-smart (and often hilarious) commentary about the electronic music sphere without relying upon the stuffy sensibilities and bland dialogue that often governs such discourse. As such, we felt she'd be the perfect addition to the XLR8R team, and have created a new column, 'Jackie's House,' in which she can banter with artists in her own unique way. Read more » 

Beats in Space: An Oral History

This month marks the 15th anniversary of Tim Sweeney's seminal radio show Beats in Space. Beginning as an inauspicious weekly gig where Sweeney played records he loved to an audience that may or may not have been tuning in, the show has gradually developed into a global institution, playing host to many of the world's finest DJs and reaching listeners far beyond the small New York University basement from which it is broadcast. Last week, Sweeney issued a two-CD mix compilation to commemorate Beats in Space's 15th birthday, but we wanted to find out more about what's involved in keeping a radio show on the air for so many years. As such, we caught up with Sweeney and a cast of characters involved with the program throughout its run to discuss Beats in Space, its history, its legacy, and what exactly makes the show's unique host tick. Read more » 

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