ZHU dazzles on debut extended play, ‘The NightDay’ [EP Review]

Artist debuts come and go with alarming frequency, varying wildly in quality, direction, and influence within the industry. In this digital age, new music flows from SoundCloud’s and iTunes, streaming more readily than ever and overflowing our social newsfeeds. While close friends also shove recommendations in an unrelenting flood of artists’ music, it is almost impossible to stand out. Today’s intriguing mix becomes yesterday’s fad in the blink of an eye.

Enter ZHU. Having made a huge blogosphere smash with his cover of Outkast, he captivated the internet with his live garage house production style with dark smoky falsettos. Stealing brooding stories of the late nights drunk with sex and inebriation, the Asian crooner sings the common thing of the older college and young carefree professional crowds. He starts with “Stay Closer,” a track that takes a simple guitar percussive riff and builds a full bouncy beat onto the skeleton. The finished product is a perfect introduction to his artistry — minimal with his sound, but enough intricacy to warrant three to four listens in entirety.

As the EP moves through “Faded” and “Paradise Awaits,” he paints a somber yet devilishly alluring picture of the Generation-Y late-night social scene that is all too true for many city dwellings. The former track, the hit lead single, is a fond pensive ode to the persuasive urges of questionable decisions. Guarded nostalgia permeates the intoxicating sounds, while the following song wastes no time looking forward in an all too optimistically mischievous manner. “Kiss me in my dreams, and tell me paradise what we see!” How innocently suggestive.

He dabbles with some hip-hop flavor in “Superfriends,” an offering that hints at a playful interest in rhymes. Using raps as much for sonic purposes in a Timbaland fashion, ZHU experiments most evidently on The DayNight’s final two efforts.

“Cocaine Models” may be the hidden gem of DayNight. A departure from the rest of the EP, it showcases the most of ZHU’s signature vocals. With the pitter patter of the hi-hats and ZHU’s lightly dancing words on a cozy and fat bass, this song truly shows of his production and musicianship. Taking its careful time to sonically mold entire melodies, this song will be a huge favorite during late nights all summer.

Much was expected of the latest talent from TH3RD BRAIN Management that broke acts Krewella and Pegboard Nerds. The entire six track EP is a full body of work. The talent showcased on the consistent 30-minute original production play is rare, and reminds listeners more of dance music geniuses SBTRKT and Bonobo than of any festival headliner. However, these songs are accessible to the new rebellious youth movement.

This will be one interesting act to follow in 2014, if not the act to follow.

Purchase: iTunes

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