Tag Archives: on my boombox

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.

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on my boombox: janelle monae, “the archandroid”

1 Feb

This week, I’ve been unable to shake one very significant question from my mind: “WTF was I doing with my life 2010.”  Sure, that was the year I graduated college and traveled the world and started my career, but forreal: was I living under a music-bereft rock? Did I never open a single issue of Spin or listen to a “best tracks of the year” playlist? Did I stop using the internet?!

What drove me to these self-reflective conundrums, you ask? Well,  if I had done any of those things in 2010, I wouldn’t just now fall in love with an artist named Janelle Monae. My relationship with this artist would be long-held and well-established and involve at least two live experiences, instead of an infantile infatuation. But alas, don’t lament what could have been, live in the present, etc.

Despite my supreme lack of timeliness in writing about this artist, I’m going to write about her. Because on the off chance that any of you, like me, missed out on the best album of 2010, then it’s high time we fix that. Allow me to introduce a woman who needs no introduction, Ms. Janelle Monae:

 

Rocking her signature tuxedo look (and rocking it oh so well), Janelle’s visual aesthetic very much demonstrates her musical style: take the best of something classic, make it ultra-modern, add a dose of futurism, and turn out something supremely fresh. One can liken her to a whole bevy of artists—David Bowie for her space-age style, Lauryn Hill or Nina Simone for her pipes, Beyonce for her pop sensibility, and James Brown for her soul—but  Janelle resists categorization better than almost any artist (even for the most flattering comparisons). Her closest parallel might be Andre 3000, if only because he, too, dodges any conventional label you might throw at him.

All of this came to a head in 2010, when Janelle released The ArchAndroid. Here’s the rundown: 70 minutes. Eighteen tracks. A concept album about a messianic android living in the year 2719, a story arc which she first began with her 2008 album Metropolis: The Chase Suite (get the David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust comparison now?). The sheer ambition of it makes me want to take a nap.

But complex storylines aside, Janelle’s ambition packs an even great punch in her musicianship. When I say Janelle resists genre categorization, I don’t mean “Oh, she’s kind of hip-hop, kind of R&B, but she does pop really well too.” No. I mean she does every single genre well, and she fuses them seamlessly. The ArchAndroid opens with a classical overture (“Suite II Overture”), shifts to a Motown/hip-hop dance number (“Tightrope,” featuring Big Boi), dives into robot rock (“Make the Bus,” featuring of Montreal), and goes everywhere in between with complete mastery.

Normally I post tracks, but this album demands holistic listening. To make it easy for you, I even created a Spotify playlist with both of the albums I mentioned. Enjoy this video of her most popular single ONLY if you promise to listen to The ArchAndroid in its entirety. You won’t regret it.