two bars, three stars: body jam at looking glass lounge

9 Jan

About one year ago, I waxed enthusiastically about what was then one of the best monthly dance parties in DC: Fatback at Bohemian Caverns. Sadly, the end of 2012 also brought the end of Fatback. While I undoubtedly found this news disappointing, all good things must come to an end, and I understand the DJs’ desires to spread their wings on other projects.

I particularly support these DJs pursuing other artistic endeavors when it results in other ill dance parties, such as Body Jam at Looking Glass Lounge.

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Now, Body Jam did not begin as a replacement for Fatback- in fact, it’s been going on for over a year, if I’m not mistaken. However, Body Jam certainly plays a more important role now that we don’t have Fatback to relieve our disco fever every month, am I right?

The musical vibes for Body Jam have a lot of overlap with your favorite Fatback mixes- I’m fairly certain I could hear Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” at either party, and that is a very, very good thing. If I had to totally oversimplify the distinction between these two parties, I would say Body Jam leans more towards 70s/80s exercise video nostalgia versus Fatback’s 60s/70s disco/soul persona.

It is pretty magical how Body Jam DJs cultivate this 80s dance party meets exercise video aesthetic into a truly awesome party. First of all, Looking Glass provides the perfect venue for this sort of event; much smaller and more laid back than Bohemian Caverns, it is literally impossible to lose your friends on the dance floor here. It is possible, however, to take a break from grooving and have a beer with your friends downstairs- a dual experience that Fatback, in all its crowded sweaty glory, could never provide. Not to mention the superior beer list, slightly off the beaten path location (which usually leads to a more intimate crowd), and infinitely interesting decor. Yeah, I love Looking Glass on any old night, even without the musical stylings that are guaranteed on Body Jam nights.

Next, the Body Jam DJs have fostered an aesthetic that is fun, quirky, and full-o’-neon with the whole throwback exercise video vibe. The first time I went to Body Jam, there was a video montage of old Jan Fonda-esque butt buster workouts playing on the walls. If electric blue thong leotards won’t inspire you to do some lunges across the dance floor, what will? Also, word on the street is that soon you’ll be able to enjoy those workout views all year long, as a Body Jam calendar is in the works.

Finally, and most importantly, the tunes. I don’t know how, but with Body Jam, these DJs have given me a playlist that feels exclusively tailored to my personal taste- even moreso than Fatback. Jumping from the Talking Heads to Prince to remixes of The Smiths, I can’t get enough. I never considered myself an 80s fanatic until I heard so many of my favorite songs mixed into one set and realized I couldn’t stop dancing if I tried.

Thankfully, I can tide myself over between monthly parties with the Body Jam Soundcloud, which has been my go-to way to get through the work day with memories of ridiculous dance moves streaming through my mind. And that’s always the best way to get through the work day, isn’t it?

Check out the mixes below (and the rest on their Soundcloud page), and then tackle your New Years fitness resolutions at Looking Glass Lounge for the next Body Jam party.

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on my boom box: feed me (with teeth), BBC essential mix

4 Jan

New year, same blog. Sometimes consistency is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Even though it’s been awhile since my last post, I’m sort of pleased that my last post related to Basslights. I just got back a few days ago, and gawd what I wouldn’t give to go back. I’ll spare you a review, but suffice to say it was ah-mazing: Griz, Big G, Gramatik, A-Trak, Pretty Lights, and Bassnectar all killed it. Just when I think I’m ready to stop spending mad money seeing these artists over and over again, I realize it’s always worth it, every single penny.

A big part of the fun of going to out of town shows is the road trip- really, what’s a better excuse for clowning around with your friends in a new place for a few days? Traveling for shows is like the fun version of traveling for work- no distractions, just pure focus on the task at hand. But instead of work, your task is: have as much damn fun as possible.

I always have great compadres for these trips, most of whom are way more in the know about music than me. This weekend was no exception; and, sure enough, during a long, traffic-filled drive home, our road trip jams turned me on to a dope, new-to-me DJ: Feed Me.

Feed Me is the house/dubstep/moombahton project of John Gooch, a DJ from Hertfordshire who is also known as Spor. He has released a ton of music between his two projects over the past few years, the most recent of which has been on mau5trap, Deadmau5’s record label. But for me, the particular hook was his BBC Essential Mix. Picture this: I am hungover, running on zero sleep, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on 95, and should probably be hating life. Instead, I’m head bopping and perking up at the sounds of Robyn into Radiohead dubstep remixes. If something could perk me up in that state, it’s damn good.

As DC’s luck would have it, Feed Me is coming to the 930 Club this month, albeit on a Sunday. But for the dedicated bassheads, this is one not to miss. Think about it.

In the meantime, please listen to this BBC Essential Mix in its entirety. You now have something to look forward to in your work day tomorrow!

BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix ft. Feed Me

on deck: grizmatik at basslights, hampton, va

6 Dec

For the past few years, both Griz and Gramatik have been at the top of my (and many other EDM fans’) list of favorite funky fresh DJs. Both had a flair for the fawnk, which is always a welcome respite from the deluge of bass-heavy DJs making their rounds on the internets.

Let’s start with Gramatik. He’s repped by Pretty Lights record label, and is arguably the most legit DJ in their lineup. For me, at least, Gramatik lends credibility to the Pretty Lights label, rather than the label lending credibility to Gramatik. After all, I believe Gramatik had already released his wildly successful “Street Bangerz Vol. 1″ by the time he signed with Pretty Lights Music, and his sound was already well established from the get-go. Despite his Slovenian roots, Gramatik has a solid grasp on American jazz, blues, and funk that he weaves throughout his mixes, which meander without getting dull.

Griz, on the other hand, is a bit less of a veteran. In fact, he didn’t drop his first full album until September 2012 (after a strong presence on ze blogs for some time), but the result was worth the wait. Griz gets down with the funky stuff too, but his mixes are a little dirtier and bass heavy than Gramatik’s. He also incorporates a bit more soul, which definitely contributes to the toned-down feel of his stuff, even though the sounds are intense.

But then- THEN – came the collaboration that surpasses the sum of it’s parts: Grizmatik. That’s right- this fall, these two wunderkins teamed up, but their heads and tables together, and dropped some supa fresh ish on us this fall. Their collab, with the appropriately mishmashed title “Digital Liberation Is Mad Freedom” (i.e., Griz’ Mad Liberation plus Gramatik’s #digitalfreedom), is the most exciting team work of 2012. I’m always impressed whenever two extremely talented solo musicians are able to produce something together that sounds seamless- it doesn’t sound like either one was trying to push their sound in front of the other. Rather, the resulting tracks are a perfect blend of what I love about Griz and what I love about Gramatik, all in one nice musical package.

The two have only done limited performances together as a duo, which makes me especially exciting for Basslights, the upcoming electro extravaganza in Hampton, VA on 12/28-12/29. The lineup doesn’t expressly list “Grizmatik,” but both artists are performing solo- and I can’t help but assume they’ll be hitting us with some epic tag teaming during the two day festival. Not to mention that they’ll be sharing the stage with oh, you know, just Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, A-Trak, and Big G. Cotdamn. Cheers to peeping New Years Eve a few days early.

on deck: kishi bashi, “151a”

29 Nov

In a rare move for me, I’m going to keep this super brief. Ultimately, I just want to tell you guys about a show for which I just purchased tickets, and the awesome music that drove me to drop those bucks.

The show in question is for Kishi Bashi, formerly of Of Montreal fame. I’ve been an Of Montreal fan for a long time (though not quite a fanatic, as many people are). Thus, I started following Kishi Bashi when he toured with the troupe of musicians that made up the circus act that is an Of Montreal show- he was the violin protege that often stole the show. Kishi Bashi always stood out from the group, and I don’t think any Of Montreal fans are surprised to see him killing it in his solo career.

As much as I like Of Montreal, after listening to Kishi Bashi’s debut solo effort 151a, I can’t help but jump for joy that he decided to leave the group. In short, I’m in love. His roots as a classically trained musician show through in the complexity of the songs, but he also incorporates so many other genres and song structures (jazz, swing, loop-heavy indie pop, etc) into a weird-but-it-works smorgasbord. Comparisons to Andrew Bird and Animal Collective are well-deserved.

To understand the true craftsmanship involved in this album, look no further than his performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk series. NPR’s intro states, “K Ishibashi is a master of building his music from the ground up, from live violin loops to layered singing to beatboxing, in order to create pocket symphonies steeped in classical music and 21st-century pop. He brings that ingenuity and songcraft to the Tiny Desk at the NPR Music offices.”

This is high praise from NPR, and the stripped down format of the concert really brings that testimony home.

Check out the Tiny Desk performance, or start with the clip below. Then, snag tickets to see him at the 930 Club in February. Why is February so far away?

Kishi Bashi, “Bright Whites”

two bars, three stars: benoit & sergio, new ships EP

15 Nov

Friends, I am ecstatic to inform you that I’ve added a new electronic act to my “DC DJ” repertoire. Don’t get me wrong, I love jamming out to some Volta Bureau, Fatback mixes, Dave Nada moombahton madness, etc- but every once in awhile, it’s great to broaden your horizons and find some new homegrown talent that excites you. This was my experience with Benoit & Sergio last week.

Benoit & Sergio is short for Benjamin “Sergio” Myers and and Benoit Simon, a duo that have played together sporadically for several years. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when Myers had a psuedo-midlife crisis and took off to Europe to pursue DJ-ing full time, that things got serious.

Since then, the two thrust themselves first into releasing 12″s and singles, along with busting out their turntables at clubs in Ibiza, Bucharest, and Edinburgh, to name a few. Their renewed vigor culminated in the release of a solid EP, New Ships, this past month. And-lucky for us- the duo have returned to our district to finish their full album (to be released in 2013) in a hometown studio.

There’s a lot to like about Benoit & Sergio’s vibe. For one, their EP title is a T.S. Eliot reference (big ups from this English major). Second, they pull off that brilliant mixture of dark (or ironically dark) lyrics and upbeat instrumentals that is often hard to strike. It recalls bands like New Order, LCD Soundsystem, Crystal Castles who balance this paradox perfectly.

Also, in this age of digitized sounds and live shows that involve nothing but a laptop, I respect that Myers’ includes his own vocals in many tracks. Sure, these vocals might be more like repetitive one-liners than actual lyrics, but I’m excited to see how this might translate in a live performance. On that front, the duo have said they’re interested in including more live-band sounds in their sets, which would only enhance the experience.

Below is two great tracks from the EP, but you should really check out the whole thing- and be on the lookout for the album next year. Oh, and I’ll definitely shout if I see any upcoming local shows- sadly, it appears they’ve played very limited shows in the States for the majority of their short career. Come back to us from Europe, guys- DC wants to see you!

on my boombox (on halloween): diplo and david lynch (sadly not together)

31 Oct

Happy Halloween, everyone! I thought I would hate this mid-week Halloween thing, but really it just means we’ve been celebrating Halloween for 4-5 days and will continue for another 4. I can get down with that.

Allow me to share what I”ll be listening to on this Hallow’s eve.
1) Diplo and Friends BBCR1xtra: Halloween Special. As a gift to all of us on this special holiday, Diplo and his cohorts just dropped a 3-hour mix on us. Yes, yes, yessss.

2) David Lynch- anything and everything you can find. David Lynch sounds perfectly eery enough for halloween, without needing to listen to the same old Monster Mash and Thriller-filled Halloween playlists again. Such as:
Pinky’s Dream ft. Karen O

Now get Spooky errybody.

on my boombox (at the gym): RwR workout playlist 2012

30 Oct

If there was one music blog post I was born to write, it is a workout music post. Among the bevy of ways I spend my free time, “exercising” might only be second to “listening to music” at #1  (and “struggling to lift my bike up stairs” would probably be #3). I love working out and have pretty much done it all when it comes to fitness routines: half-marathons, booty-kicking cycling classes, soul-cleansing yoga, embarrassing Zumba dances, and lazy, hungover elliptical sessions.

I will go out for a run no matter the time, place, or weather (even if I whine about it). I don’t  travel without my running shoes (even if I don’t always use them), and I will scope out the hotel gym the second I arrive somewhere. I am not crazy, I am simply an endorphin addict (and trust me, I have the appetite to match it).

However, I will also never workout without music. Instead, I will spend $18 on junky headphones at the gym when I forgot mine, and I’ll risk getting my phone snatched during the “no-music-allowed” Army 10-Miler, because lord knows I wasn’t getting through that without Spotify.

Admittedly, I sometimes listen to some seriously outdated, terrible music while working out. I firmly believe that no guilty pleasure music is off limits at the gym, so if Katy Perry gets your heart pumping, then go for it. But workout playlists need not be composed ENTIRELY of top 40 throwaways. Everything from indie tunes to classic rock to cutting-edge electro remixes can be the perfect tunes to get your butt moving

Thus, I am pleased to introduce the first RwR Workout Playlists. I’ve composed them in Spotify, so if you have the Spotify mobile app (as all of you should), then just download and go. For those of you who use iPods or something else, check out the lists and download the ones that strike your fancy.

Some notes: The scope of this playlist is large; it has everything from indie to gangsta rap to dubstep to Beyonce. Don’t be surprised if you don’t love every song, but there is something in it for everyone. Also, I’ve noted DC music (or DC-represented music) with a *.

1) Warm-Up:Some lower-key james for your walk to the gym, your first few minutes of cardio, or a gentler weight-lifting, yoga, or pilates session.

Alex Winston – Sister Wife
Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Architecture In Helsinki – Contact High
Bassnectar – Here We Go
Best Coast – Boyfriend
Cherub – Doses & Mimosas
Chromeo – Bonafied Lovin
Cut Copy – Take Me Over
Dismemberment Plan – A Life of Possibilities
Hot Chip – Look At Where We Are – Major Lazer remix
Justice – Civilization
Juveniles – Hard Working Girl
K-OS – Crabbuckit
Kid Cudi – Mr. Rager
Kid Cudi – Up Up & Away
Lotus – Molluskunk
Nervo – We’re All No One (Edit) [feat. Afrojack and Steve Aoki]
Of Monsters And Men – Six Weeks
Ra Ra Riot – Boy
Salt-N-Pepa – Get Up Everybody (Get Up)
Santigold – Lights Out
Sbtrkt – Wildfire (feat. Little Dragon)
Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)
Yelle – Que Veux-Tu – Madeon Extended Remix

2) Intervals: One of the most effective ways to increase the intensity of your cardio is to incorporate sprints or other bursts of speed and energy. I find this much easier to tolerate if I can just follow along with the tempo of my music, so I have particular songs that I use for intervals- when the beat drops or the chorus gets fast, it’s time to dial it up. (Note: This playlist includes a lot of dubstep- bass drops are ideal for intervals. If dubstep isn’t your jam, then skip em).

Bassnectar – Upside Down
Bassnectar – The Matrix
Bassnectar – Blast Off
Bassnectar – The 808 Track (feat. Mighty High Coup)
Beyoncé – Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
Crystal Castles – Not In Love
David Guetta – She Wolf (Falling to Pieces) [feat. Sia]
David Guetta – Memories (feat. Kid Cudi)
Deadmau5 – Raise Your Weapon (Madeon Remix)
The Hold Steady – You Can Make Him Like You
Janelle Monáe – Tightrope – Feat. Big Boi
JAY-Z – On To The Next One [Jay-Z + Swizz Beatz] – Explicit Album Version
JAY-Z – Public Service Announcement (Interlude)
Kid Sister – Pro Nails (Rusko Remix)
The Knocks – Make It Better
Lykke Li – Get Some
Madonna – Hung Up
Major Lazer – Hold The Line feat. Mr. Lex & Santigold
Nicki Minaj – Super Bass – Clean Version
Nicki Minaj – Starships – Explicit Version
Rihanna – We Found Love
Rusko – Somebody To Love
Santigold – GO! – feat. Karen O
Simian – We Are Your Friends (Original Mix)
SOJA – To Whom It May Concern
Summer Camp – Better Off Without You
Tiësto – C’mon (feat. Diplo)
Twin Shadow – Five Seconds
Wynter Gordon – Dirty Talk (Laidback Luke Remix)
Yellow Ostrich – Elephant King
Zedd – Spectrum – Radio Mix

3) Long Run: This could also be called the “general” category. It’s a mix of tunes that are chill enough to help you zone out on a long run, with others that are more intense and high-energy to sustain any workout.

Adrian Lux – Teenage Crime – Radio Edit
Architecture In Helsinki – Heart It Races
Beyoncé – Get Me Bodied – Extended Mix
Big Boi – Shutterbugg
Big Boi – Tangerine
Big Boi – You Ain’t No DJ
Big Gigantic – High Life
Childish Gambino – Outside
Chromeo – Hot Mess
Chromeo – Tenderoni
Chromeo – Fancy Footwork
Crystal Castles – Untrust Us
Crystal Castles – Vanished
Cut Copy – Lights & Music
Daft Punk – Digital Love (Boris Dlugosh Remix)
David Byrne – Miss America
Deadmau5 – Some Chords
Deadmau5 – Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff – feat. Rob Swire
Diplo feat. Billy The Gent & Long Jawns – Butters Theme (feat. Billy The Gent & Long Jawns)
Dismemberment Plan – What Do You Want Me to Say?
Dizzee Rascal Feat. Calvin Harris & Chrome – Dance Wiv Me – Radio Edit
Ellie Goulding – Lights – Bassnectar Remix
Ester Dean – Drop It Low
*The Fly Girlz – Welcome 2 Brownsville
*The Fly Girlz – Fly Girlz
Friendly Fires – Hurting (Tensnake Remix)
Genius/GZA – Gold
Handsome Furs – I’m Confused
The Hold Steady – Stuck Between Stations
The Hold Steady – You Can Make Him Like You
Hot Chip – Look At Where We Are – Major Lazer remix
*Imperial China – Mortal Wombat
Janelle Monáe – Tightrope – Feat. Big Boi
Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built
JAY-Z – Show Me What You Got
Kelly Rowland – Motivation – Diplo Remix
The Knocks – Blackout
The Knocks – Dancing With the DJ (Dave Edwards Remix)
Lady Gaga – Electric Chapel – Two Door Cinema Club Remix
LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
Lil Wayne – Let The Beat Build
Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!
M.I.A. – Galang
M.I.A. – XXXO
M83 – Kim & Jessie
Madonna – Like A Prayer
Major Lazer – Get Free
Major Lazer – Sound Of Siren
Matt and Kim – Lessons Learned
Prince – Little Red Corvette
Robyn – Indestructible
Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend
Robyn – U Should Know Better
Robyn – Cry When You Get Older
Robyn – Dancing On My Own
Salt-N-Pepa – Shoop
Salt-N-Pepa – Whatta Man
Santigold – L.E.S. Artistes
Santigold – Creator
SBTRKT – Wildfire (OVO Remix feat. Drake)
SOJA – You Don’t Know Me
Spank Rock – Car Song (feat. Santigold)
Spank Rock – Bump
Summer Camp – I Want You
Tiësto – Feel It In My Bones
Tune-Yards – Gangsta
The White Panda – Midnight Life
The White Panda – Your Woman (Remix feat. Dorrough)
The White Stripes – Icky Thump
The White Stripes – Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground
Wolfgang Gartner – Illmerica (Extended Mix)
Wu-Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck
Wu-Tang Clan – Bring Da Ruckus
Yellow Ostrich – Marathon Runner
Yuksek – On A Train – The Magician Remix

4) Audial Gatorade: Your edge. Your limit. Your “omg get me out of this gym/off of this bike/over this hill/out of this pose NOW” feeling. When you hit those moments, you need what I call “audial gatorade”- those tunes that can turn you from brink of death into superwoman (err, or at least make you keep going).

Avicii – Fade Into Darkness – Vocal Club Mix
Avicii – Levels – Radio Edit
Azealia Banks – 212
Beyoncé – Crazy In Love feat. Jay-Z
Big Freedia – Booty-Whop
Bonde Do Role – Marina do Bairro
Chromeo – Night By Night
Darude – Sandstorm – Radio Edit
Diplo feat. Nicky Da B – Express Yourself (feat. Nicky Da B)
El-P – Drones Over Bklyn
Eric Prydz – Call On Me – Radio Edit
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
*Imperial China – Corrupting the Integrity of the Grid
Justice – D.A.N.C.E. (MSTRKRFT Remix)
Kreayshawn – Twerkin!!! featuring Diplo and Sissy Nobby
Lil Wayne – 6 Foot 7 Foot – Explicit Version
Madonna – 4 Minutes – feat. Justin Timberlake And Timbaland
MSTRKRFT & N.O.R.E. – Bounce (feat. N.O.R.E.) [Extended Version]
Prince – 1999 [Edit]
Prince & The Revolution – Let’s Go Crazy
Reptar – Orifice Origami
Rihanna – We Found Love
Skrillex – Bangarang – feat. Sirah
Skrillex – Kyoto – feat. Sirah
Three 6 Mafia vs. Tiësto with Sean Kingston and Flo Rida – Feel It – Explicit Album Version
Walk the Moon – Anna Sun

5. Cool Down: The best part of any workout- your endorphins are flowing but you are D-O-N-E with the huffing and puffing and pain of the workout itself. So, relish your accomplishment and listen to some down tempo tunes to bring down your heart rate. These could also work during any of your more chill (read: more hungover) workouts.

AWOLNATION – Sail
Calvin Harris – Feel So Close – Radio Edit
*Deleted Scenes – Fake IDs
*Deleted Scenes – Take My Life
Diiv – Doused
The Dodos – The Season
Drive-By Truckers – Heathens
Drive-By Truckers – Decoration Day
Earth, Wind & Fire – September
J Cole – Work Out – Explicit Version
Kleerup – Until We Bleed – Feat. Lykke Li
Mc Solaar – La Belle Et Le Bad Boy
Phantogram – Don’t Move
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
PJ Harvey – Down By The Water
Queen – You’re My Best Friend
SBTRKT – Right Thing To Do (feat. Jessie Ware)
SOJA – Here I Am
TLC – Creep
TLC – Waterfalls
TLC – No Scrubs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero