Tiesto Club Life Volume 2: Miami (album review)
In the year since Tiesto released his first Club Life compilation, he has grown from dance music’s biggest name to something much larger: a true household name with a radio station, clothing line, and cross-country college tour. (Not to mention a hugely successful web series, and a headphone line…) Naturally, then, the stakes were far higher for the mix’s much-hyped second edition; Club Life Volume Two needed to satisfy a larger and more diverse swath of fans, with accessible remixes for newer, Top 40-leaning listeners and exciting new collaborations for longtime EDM fanatics.
In true Tiesto fashion, he makes this difficult DJing task look easy. Club Life Volume Two: Miami is a perfect ode to the city and his loyal fans. The mix deftly sets the tone for what we’ll be hearing from Tiesto this year: a range of collaborations — he works with Swanky Tunes and Wolfgang Gartner on the album — and remixes with mainstream appeal, all with big, stadium-ready drops.
Club Life Volume Two opens much like Volume One, with an intro that sets the stage for the aural journey to come. In the full mixed version of the set opens with the hypnotic, ethereal sounds of “Miami” before the first true track of the album: “Chasing Summers.” Tiesto has been opening with it lately — most notably at his Ultra Music Festival set — and I kind of get chills every time I hear it. It screams summer and happiness and all things good in the world. This is Tiesto music at his best, and I just love the juxtaposition of obvious building synths with the uncharacteristically hard drop that serves as a perfect transition into the next track of the album.
“We Own The Night” has been out for a week now so it shouldn’t be that too surprising to you avid DA readers. I personally prefer the melodic nature of Tiesto’s tracks so this wasn’t my favorite on the album initially, but it has grown on me. It’s just so unique through and through; the middle section is intricately crafted and melds so many types of sounds so well. You can hear both Tiesto’s and Wolfgang’s influence, not to mention the killer vocals from Luciana that tie the track together.
Third Party’s remix of “What Can We Do” takes Tiesto’s original and gives it a much more fist-pump friendly melody. This is a progressive take on a singalong track, and it has a distinctly old school feel to it. I do love the way Third Party uses the build as a weapon, and it’s a track perfect for very late night as crowded clubs. It’s not the best Third Party remix I’ve ever heard — that still goes to “Otherside” in my opinion — but it feels right at home on the Miami compilation.
New to the Club Life compilation is Baggi Begovic, who remixes Josie Cotton’s “If A Lie Was Love.” As the name implies, the track is emotional nicely produced, if not a bit unexpected. However, the energy in the track picks up about half way through and it does work. This isn’t the best track on the album by a longshot and feels more like filler.
Tiesto’s remix of “Somebody That I Used To Know” was supposed to be the best one yet, but surprisingly it isn’t. While others have crafted new, innovative takes on the track, Tiesto’s remix falls short to me. The lyric feels a little out of place, and the overall production is just a little too generic big-room house to compliment the melancholy vibe of the vocals. It’s not that it’s bad per se (because it’s not), it’s not just as inventive as some of the other versions out there.
Coldplay’s “Paradise” has lent itself quite nicely to the remix treatment, and Tiesto’s take is a unique approach to the song. Its opening is full of slow synths and a clap which leads into more intricate stings, and the drop is something that feels distinctly Tiesto. You’ve undoubtedly heard this song many times before so we’ll spare you all the details, but Tiesto’s version is worth having in your iTunes library — if only to have a chiller version for those times when Fedde Le Grand’s take is a little too hard.
The first time I heard “Walls” played out, I instantly freaked out and had to know what song it was. Sultan and Ned Shepard’s contribution to Club Life Volume 2 is arguably the best track on the album, combining an uplifting melody and progression with super-listenable lyrics from from Quilla. The one-two punch of a truly actually amazing track that’s flown under the radar for a pretty long time makes this the undisputed gem of the album, and the single song I haven’t been able to stop listening to. Sultan and Ned Shepard’s remix of “Fire In Your New Shoes” is one of my favorite songs of all time, and this is probably one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard from the duo. Kudos.
Last time Tiesto and Hardwell came together, they brought the world “Zero 76,” so the stakes were high for their next collaboration. The duo’s take on The Young & The Famous’ “Young Blood,” is another solid release, combining an indie vocal with steadily building synths that lead to a breakdown that reeks of Hardwell influence. It has the feel of a Passion Pit or Empire of the Sun track, but with the added benefit of being remixed by two of the hottest producers on the planet. No big deal.
“Life” is a beautiful progressive tune, but it does employ some of the same sounds as “Young Blood,” the track that comes before it. The melody tends to get a little repetitive in our opinion, and without any vocals to break it up, we were left hoping for more. John Dahlback is a great producer and this track serves a purpose in moving the mix forward, but it’s one of the more forgettable individual offerings on the record.
John De Sohn teams up with Andreas Moe for “Long Time,” but this is another one of the weaker tracks on the album. The bar is set high given the insane selection, and this is one that seems to drone on rather than actually going anywhere. It’s a nice effort and sounds nice when you’re listening to the album all the way through, but you can skip this one and focus on the other tracks when it’s time to pick favorites.
Axwell’s mix of “In My Mind” is on the album. Enough said.
“In My Mind” is a hard track to follow, but “Arena” rises to the challenge. Like one might guess from its name, the track is all about making a big impact. The standard build-up/drop song structure is expertly used here for maximal hands-in-the-air fun. It’s also an ideal transition track, bringing the mood of the mix back up in preparation for a big finish.
We can all admit that there are some issues with the original mix of Afrojack and Shermanology’s “Can’t Stop Me” — the weird high pass filter in the intro, the absurd seven-second pause in the middle… Tiesto’s remix starts off by correcting all the things we didn’t like, and rightfully puts the vocal front and center, but the sounds are sort of off. Tiesto does manage to heighten the energy, but the jury is out on this one.
Tiesto and Swanky Tunes team up for “Make Some Noise,” a massive collab that starts with echoes of “Feel It” (Editor’s note: remember that time Tiesto produced a song for Three 6 Mafia?) and boasts the enchanting vocals you’d expect to hear on a Kaskade or Morgan Page track. A hard synth melody keeps the track from getting too sappy, however. “Make Some Noise” works perfectly in Tiesto’s mix, but also deserves a listen on its own: with Tiesto and Swanky Tunes both lending their talents to the track, lots of nuance is to be expected.
What better way is there for Tiesto to close out his second Club Life compilation than with “Maximal Crazy”? This song has been around for months now, but it serves as that last push of energy needed to get you to the end. Appropriately Tiesto has chosen to include the original mix on this album, but it’s worth giving a shout out to all the producers who have already remixed and bootlegged the track. The blaring horns and general craziness of the track are a great way to end a highly energetic mix, and bring back attention to the man who made it all possible: Tiesto.
When you’re in the game as long as Tiesto it can be hard to keep up with what’s hot, but he has demonstrated his ability to remain at the forefront of music time and again. In its entirety, Club Life Volume 2: Miami is an excellent representation of not only Tiesto’s sound, but the current pulse of EDM in the year 2012. There’s a mix of new and old, easy-listening and harder style, vocals and instrumentals, and good and… less good.
In the same way that Volume 1 was a mix split up into tracks, so is Volume 2, a true “compilation” meant to be listened to all at once to grasp the big picture. That’s the best way to listen to it the first time around, but most of the tracks stand equally on their own. Tiesto is one of the biggest names in the EDM game, and it’s appropriate that his Club Life Volume 2: Miami release is equally enormous.