Archive | May, 2012

on my boombox: yuksek, “on a train” (magician remix)

30 May

It’s no secret that much of the music on my blog comes from the taste and expertise of my many musically inclined friends. The best is when friends expose me to new music as we share DJ responsibilities while sitting on porch on a Saturday night in the summer– periodically switching out iPhones from the speakers while different people serve up their new favorite beats (or just throw on a tried-and-true classic. Anything by the Talking Heads will do).

I discovered the track below by this very same process, during an especially enjoyable porch sitting session this past weekend. Everyone was bringing out the good stuff and fresh beats were in abundant supply, but this one especially stuck out.

I haven’t listened to a ton of Yuksek before but I definitely will now, because the original version of this remix is strong. And this magician character, whoever he is, just takes it to a whole new level. This track is the perfectly versatile party song- one that gets people going but doesn’t feel awkward when played in a chill setting. It’s a new go-to hang out jam, and I’m always on the hunt for more of those.


weekend roll out: demons (diplo remix)

25 May

Weekend roll outs before three-day weekends are always especially joyous. I hope you all are as thrilled as I am to kick off summer (and, soon, summer outdoor concert season woop!)

Anyway, I’ve been reading/watching way too much internet stuff about Electric Daisy Carnival that went down at Metlife Stadium in NY last weekend, partially seething with envy and partially geeking out over the beats that were dropped at that festival. Many of the DJs really whipped out the big guns for that fest, and it shows.

One stellar performance that I’ve read about and listened to is none other than Diplo. And, double awesome, he remixed perennial RWR favorite, Sleigh Bells. Back in my pre-blog days I hyped Diplo’s remix of Sleigh Bells’ “Tell Em” via my gchat status and Facebook, but now I have a slightly bigger microphone through which to shout about this remix of “Demons” from his Electric Daisy performance. Check out both for your weekend roll out pleasure.

Roll ouuut (three days this time).

on my boombox: chromatics, kill for love

23 May

When lamenting “the state of music today,” musical purists often bemoan the lack of attention paid to full albums in our ADD, singles-obsessed culture. One could argue that this change set in motion as early as the start of MTV, and was perpetuated by everything from TRL to Napster to Youtube to Lana Del Rey.

I can’t claim to be a purist who completely shuns singles. I am a sucker for a catchy beat, and my short attention span sometimes leads me to only focus on an album’s best tracks. That said, there is simply no musical experience that compares to listening to a holistic, well-crafted album in its entirety, start to finish, every time. You know what I mean- those albums that are so good you wouldn’t even consider skipping around. These albums tell a story, and you wouldn’t pick up your favorite novel and just reading the 15th chapter, would you?

So when a band more or less forces you to listen to their album holistically, it better tell a damn good story. The songs should be so cleanly woven from start to finish that breaking it up would only detract from the art as a whole.

Recently, the Pacific Northwest-based band Chromatics has done just that with their latest album, Kill for Love. The album is a 90-minute opus, and it is available on Soundcloud as a “complete album blended together for your undisturbed listening pleasure.” Thankfully, the album backs up its command for your undivided attention with music that’s worth your undivided attention.

It made a lot of sense when I read that Chromatics’ front man Johnny Jewel contributed several tracks to the stellar soundtrack for the movie Drive, because  that’s exactly what this feels like: a soundtrack of synth. The album is heady and abstract but still entirely accessible. It also starts slow and builds for that whole 90 minutes, getting better and better with each track- it’s as if listeners are rewarded for their patience. Chromatics’ ability to draw pop gold (for example, the title track) from meandering, abstract synth-pop will undoubtedly draw comparisons to M83, and I reckon there are few fans of one who wouldn’t be fans of the other.

So, dear readers, I challenge you: for 90 whole minutes, listen to this album. Don’t skip around. Don’t hunt for the good parts. Don’t hit pause to watch various cat-infused Youtube videos and forget to keep listening. Do this successfully, and you will have just soaked up a truly beautiful piece of music. And who knows- maybe you’ll even recapture some of your desire to seek out not just catchy sounds and songs, but great albums. I long ago came to the conclusion that finding the latter is a far more rewarding experience.

Chromatics, Kill for Love

i was there: M83 at 930 club, early show

14 May

Wow, three weeks without a post? How did that happen?! Oh, I know: I went to Europe for two weeks. And, as anyone who travels knows, the week following a 15-day trip pretty much requires exhaustive effort just to get out of bed in the morning and deal with the fact that you’re not traveling. Sigh.

BUT! I am back in action. Specifically back in show action, with the long-awaited M83 double show at the 930 Club this past week. While I had tickets to both instances of the double-header, I decided to share the wealth and sell the tickets to a friend.

Those of you who went probably recall that this show wasn’t originally listed as a two-parter. Back in February, 930 Club announced the show and it sold out instantly (as in, less than 5 minutes instantly). Those of us who scored tickets felt beyond victorious- our time spent glued to Ticketfly and hitting refresh had paid off!

But our gloating was short-lived. A few weeks later, the show time was moved up and a late show was added. All of the sudden, “the show” was now “the early show.” I don’t think I was alone in feeling a little perturbed by this move. The tickets were pricey, and having an early and late show implies that each one will be at best short and at worst incomplete. So, while I was obviously stoked for this musical experience that was months in the making, it felt a little strange arriving at the 930 Club when it was still light outside for an event that was supposed to be the highlight of my show season.

Nonetheless, I went in with a positive attitude and was antsy to see if the band would live up to my friends’ raves about their Coachella set. And ultimately, the show met all of my expectations. Yes, the sound/energy/song choices were awesome; yes, it was too early and too short.

Given the structure and content of M83’s albums, at least their two most recent ones (Hurry Up We’re Dreaming and Saturdays = Youth), I was less concerned about the actual song choices, but more concerned about their order and how they fit and flowed together. More so than almost any band I listen to regularly, I refuse to listen to an M83 album out of order. The songs are strong, but the album is really a mosaic; the beauty is in the holistic experience. If you listened to their tunes as singles, many of them simply wouldn’t make sense. You wouldn’t get why a voice track of a little girl talking about frogs is awesome and not random (“Raconte-Moi Une Histoire,” sadly not played).

With that criteria in mind, I think the actual performance was spectacular. The band played a wide spectrum of songs, ticked off most of the hits (except no “Kim and Jessie” whaaaat?), but- most importantly- it flowed really well, even though the songs obviously didn’t follow album order.

I was also pleasantly surprised at the number of musicians on stage with Anthony Gonzales, M83’s only permanent member. The bevy of artists and instruments on stage obviously made for a richer, fuller sound without the need to rely on loops, and many of the band members straight multiplied the amount of energy on stage- I was grateful for their presence and their head banging throughout.

Other specific song highlights include “New Map,” the anthemic “Midnight City” (obviously brought the house down), and the encore, which made the previously lackluster crowd finally get on board and move their feet.

But, of course, it ended far too soon. I’m looking forward to reading about the late show and figuring out if the experience would have been any better had I stayed for the late show, but really I feel I shouldn’t have been faced with that choice. On the bright side, though, it was quite nice leaving the 930 Club with essentially a whole Saturday night ahead of you. I could get used to that.