This guy is damn good.
One of the most interesting things about the rise of the Internet indie artist is the ability for current talent to take bits and pieces from a dozen different genres and recombine them into something new and interesting. Duncan Daniels exploits this idea in most of his tracks, which run the gamut from rock, to pop, to techno, to chiptune, to alt-country, and with a strong hip-hop influence throughout. Often all in the same song. Blindly in Love exemplifies this by sounding like an alt-country track that got remixed, while being all original.
Duncan Daniels's latest track, Forever, is a pure rocker with just a whiff of country. Lyrically, it follows the standard lost love lamented format, with Daniels recognizing how he messed up his great romance and is now "crying forever, forever, forever, forever" because she's not coming back. However, while the lyrics may be fairly standard, the production and delivery are anything but.
On Forever, Daniels puts forward some of his most soulful delivery, ranging from a mournful near-whisper to big buildups full of passion. Like all great showmen, Daniels' phrasing and vocal embellishments allow his performance to rise above the subject matter without overplaying his hand or burying the lyrics.
Likewise, as with all his tracks, the production is both creative and nearly perfect. It begins with surprisingly heavy, almost industrial drum beats, but as it goes along, strings slowly get introduced. First, so softly you can barely hear them before eventually rising in the final rounds of the chorus to a huge climax, creating a feeling of suspended motion reminiscent of The Verge's classic Bitter Sweet Symphony.
Daniels rarely raps outright, although Superstar is a superb track that combines smoothly-flowing rhymes with production that subtly morphs from a Beastie Boys-like thumping into a full-on trance vibe as the track continues. It's a remarkable bit of creative production, and could send a jolt of creativity into the genre.
His trance\chiptune influence hits its peak in Like This, a strong dance track with quite well-orchestrated chiptune elements that add up to something that could have been at home on the soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim vs The World. The light, airy electronic elements sound like old-school Nobuo Uematsu, combined with great dance beats and a nice guest appearance by Nigerian star M.I
In Ready For Love, his tribute to finding The One For Him, he muses on how love will change his life; but his superfluous use of autotune gets in the way of an otherwise strong track with surprisingly creative production.
None the less, Duncan Daniels' music shows how fiercely unique and innovative indie internet artists can get. For those with wide tastes in music, Daniels can be a breath of fresh air, showing you can be innovative in your songwriting while still sticking closely enough to established tropes to reliably create crowd-pleasing hits.