Summer Love Playlist

Full disclosure, I’ve been terrible about widening my music horizon. But perhaps terrible isn’t the correct word; this lack of branching out means I’ve been exploring the contents of my own iTunes with a renewed vigor. On a personal note, I’ve recently moved to Oakland, and because we don’t yet have an internet connection, I’m writing this from the Urban Grind café downtown. You might have guessed, but I’m surrounded by literal crackheads. They may or may not influence my dialogue here. Without further adieu, here’s my not-so-new mix of tunes that have me fallin:

1. Hot Chip- “Look At Where We Are” (Major Lazer Remix)

Generally speaking, Hot Chip’s music is laden with gushy promises of endless love and their latest album, In Our Heads, is no exception. This song reflects a style shift, in that it’s a bit less electronic than a lot of the bizarre tracks they turn out, but not to fret—Major Lazer fixes that. This upbeat track will surely have you swayin’ with your boo long into the night…

2. Imogen Heap- “Goodnight and Go” 

I must admit, this one takes me back to my starry-eyed teenage years and makes me want to twirl around on my tiptoes. OK if you know me at all, you realize that this dance is not really just a desire. At any given time this summer, you’ll probably find me doing said twirl.

3. Metric- “Raw Sugar” 

This one doesn’t have much to do with love or summer, but it was a welcome blast from the past when this one came up on my iTunes shuffle. OH! Wait it does have a line mentioning the season, but somehow “summer never comes” doesn’t really render feelings of joy and toes in the sand….enjoy it anyway.

4. Alt-J- “Dissolve Me” 

Nothing says summertime quite like two tabs on your tongue…

5. Bob Marley- “Could You Be Loved” (RAC Remix)

You know I had to throw in a Marley track. A couple of his musically inclined children got together with a few incredible DJs and made this beautiful reggae baby that is Legend: Remixed. This is one of my favorite tracks from the collab because, let’s face it, anything RAC touches is gold. If you’re like me, this lighthearted take on his pop hit makes ya wanna start a fireside beach dance party in your own living room (maybe don’t light a fire though).

6. Disclosure- “Latch” 

OK so I regularly refer to myself as a bonafide music snob, and yes this is a pop hit and probably played on the radio, but I love this song. And it has an amazing video to go along with it!!! THERE’S SO MUCH LOVE! First kisses! Ahhh!! On that note, I love that there is a lesbian couple in the video. It’s impressively refreshing to see same-sex flirtation grouped with heterosexual hanky pankey.

7. Solange- “Losing You” 

Renaming this playlist might be a good idea. This track is a plea, an admission of strong-hearted desperation, and I totally feel for ma girl Solange on this one (I wish we were friends IRL). But the song is wonderful, and the colorful video was filmed in my beloved South Africa! Side note: I want to own her entire wardrobe from this shoot. Also- girl’s got moves.

8. Ja Rule ft. Ashanti- “Mesmerize” 

First: the video. Nothing says “summer” quite like the end sequence of Grease, and nothing says love like Ja Rule and Ashanti in all black strollin’ around a carnival. That logic may be flawed, but just embrace the warm weather, be a little more street, and rock ya body. Don’t forget, summer time= sexi time.

9. Twista- “Wetter” 

…I have so few words for this selection. But uhh…if it gets too hot, you’d rather be wetter, right?

10. Dominique Young Unique- “Hot Girl” (Mentalcut Remix)

This is so self-explanatory for so many reasons. The song’s aiight, but like…damn.

Advertisements

And the award for most repetitive, unnecessarily long musical intro goes to…

Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart”

I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable about this song. I think it’s perhaps because I associate it with the time in my life when I actually started to critically think about music. When I started college, I was obsessed with the notion of becoming one of those super cute indie kids who only listened to indie music (with the occasional token punk rock thrown in there…you know, so people would think I was edgy). Death Cab was easily my favorite band. I used to listen to Plans and make plans of my own to one day feel the agonizingly beautiful emotions that Ben Gibbard sang about. You know, because you can totally plan what kind of loves you’re going to have in your lifetime. Especially when you’re fresh out of high school and totes convinced you’ve found the love of your life. 18 is blissfully stupid.

Back to the music, when I first heard this song on the radio I was like “uhhh…you’re going to possess someone’s heart? Like a demon? That’s not really romantic, Ben. Maybe you meant that you’re going to own it? Well that’s sort of rude…JLo always says that love don’t cost a thing so how do you plan to take ownership here? OK whatevs my friends like the song so I guess it’s fine.”

I apparently was not yet capable of deciding to outwardly admit that I disliked Narrow Stairs‘ debut single; I saw Death Cab twice on that tour. TWICE. The second time, my friend couldn’t go at the last minute so I went alone…obsessive and weird. Whatever, I had a good time.

Now that I’ve had some time to sit on it, it’s so painful to even listen to the non-radio-edit version of this song. Like…what the hell were they thinking? It’s so monotonous. The piano picks up and you catch a glimmer of hope but then it just goes on.They played the entire intro during their live performance. I just remember looking out into the crowd and seeing the same “when the fack is he going to start singing?” look on everyone’s faces. It’s so awkward to look like you’re rocking out for that fivefuckingminute intro. Especially when you’re in a crowd of indie kids who are awkward enough as it stands.

I love ever-evolving music taste.

Side note: trying to be indie is so fucking exhausting. Life is so much easier when you realize that it’s not worth it to care [so much].

Related side note: I’m aware of how stupid this post is. It’s ok though because I actually don’t care.

Funny-ish side note: “Cath…” used to be my ringtone. I was that committed to the image.

House music and other stupid things

Do you ever catch yourself listening to something and think, “This music is totally controlling me in the way that the artist wanted it to”? How about, “Why am I losing control of all bodily functions?” This is how I feel about house music.

I’m sitting here at the airport listening to a slew of genres and I keep catching myself in an all-too-absorbed, eyes rolling into the back of my head stupor. It’s as if no matter how hard I try to pass off House as mainstream bro bonerjamz, I can’t deny its power and ability to make the whole crowd catch a move and jive together like one mass of energy and sweat.

I’m sure it’ll get to a point where the wasted bros and e-tarded preteens get to me, but until then I’ll be groovin out to this in the Sahara with my eyes closed (LISTEN AND DANCE! MINDCONTROL! #toomuchcaffeine):

You Should Know, Volume III: POLICA

POLICA-620x310

photo courtesy of thefader.com

Occasionally spelled “POLIÇA,” depending on which band member you ask, this indietronica group has caught the attention of big acts like Bon Iver (Mike Noyce is actually featured on a few of their tracks, like “Lay Your Cards Out”). This genre has become my favorite as of late, and POLICA definitely adds a diverse touch to my ever-growing palate. Their sound is a little moody and incorporates a nice variety of percussion. If you’re sensing a theme with my taste in vocalists, you’re absolutely right…Channy Leaneagh’s vocals are totally haunting and inspiringly beautiful. They hail from Minneapolis, which really makes me wonder if those long, “real” winters (that us Californians rarely experience) hold a certain weight in the creative process, one which must be experienced in order to derive a particular feeling or sound? I’ll probably never find out since I lose my shit when it’s below 50 degrees here.

Catch their set at Coachella this year! I’ll be the one dancing like a tree in the rainforest (that analogy makes sense, right?). Here’s one of my personal favorites, POLICA’s “Dark Star.” This song captures that wide variation of sounds that this group is known for.

6 things I want to happen at Coachella this year:

photo courtesy of coachella.com

1. Phoenix/Daft Punk Collaboration

I’m prefacing this with the fact that Daft Punk is my favorite electronic artist and in my top 5 favorite acts of all time. BUT in spite of my wishful thinking, things are looking up and this collab might actually be a thing. Since the lineup was first released, fans have been speculating as to why Phoenix was deemed worthy of a headliner spot. I mean—don’t get me wrong, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers are headlining Sunday and even the Stone Roses and Blur had to share. Something feels fishy to me. Phoenix’s guitarist Laurent Brancowitz joined the band after leaving Darling, a three-man act composed of Brancowitz and eventual Daft Punk members Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Phoenix has been active since 1999, but did not float into our mainstream music scene until 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Curious that they would climb the ladder to headliner so quickly…OK even more suspicious: last night’s SNL featured a mysterious commercial promoting Daft Punk. Coincidence? That would be all too curious. Obviously I really want this to happen, but justsayin’ IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO HAPPEN.

Watch the ad via Pitchfork here

Listen to this track from Alive 2007: 

2. Lazerproof Live

So Major Lazer made this really epic mixtape with La Roux called Lazerproof that rocks so hard. La Roux vocalist Elly Jackson’s ultra-femme soprano notes compliment the dancehall and Moombahton sound that Major Lazer is known for.  The concept of live vocals over these already catchy beats makes me very excited. I can’t wait to dance my ass off.

3. Onstage reenactment of Eric Prydz’s “Call on Me”

One day, my roommates and I were hanging out with some male friends who started freaking out when they heard that we had never seen this video. Sure, he just tweaked a few things from the 80s hit “Valerie,” and sure, I had pretty much given up on radio and the concept of 80s reworks when FloRida came out with his horrendous version of “You Spin Me Round,” but something about this just works. The single was released in 2004 and it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know about this video during my awkward youth years. If MGMT can bring out big-hipped girls in spandex, then why can’t a DJ bring out some sexi ladiez? *Side note: Even I want to be the one dude in this class, holy Sahara Desert.

4. Making it out of the Dropkick Murphys mosh pit without losing an article of clothing

I saw Dropkick Murphys for the first time at Warped Tour back in high school. I’m all for Celtic Rock and really, if you haven’t moshed with fans like theirs, you’re missing out on a crucial concert-goer experience. The only unfortunate thing about the pit was the fact that I lost my shoe. I found it later, but still, my 17-year-old self would have been pretty bummed if I had permanently lost my yellow Chucks with ladybugs printed on them. Actually considering how hot it gets in Indio, losing a shirt or something might not be so bad.

5. John Frusciante will just come back

I have a really hard time with the fact that RHCP is even on tour. I mean, without ‘ol Johnny’s incredible talent, obviously they get by, but something just doesn’t feel right. It wouldn’t be totally out of the question, right?! I mean, he’s left and come back before! Again, probably wishful thinking, but these guys are crazy so who knows. Also I would really appreciate it if they only played their music pre-2004…I still can’t hang with that Stadium Arcadium crap but I guess I like “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” enough. But seriously, just listen to this live version of “Can’t Stop” and die a little on the inside:

6. I will not faint/I will see Grizzly Bear’s set

I probably bring this up way too often for it to be OK, but the first year that I attended Coachella, I fainted. Like a n00b, I passed out from dehydration because, in the state I was in, my dumbass forgot to drink water. Hello it’s the desert! Whatever. Anyway, I missed Grizzly Bear’s performance because I was goin’ too hard during Them Crooked Vultures’ set and have clearly not forgiven myself yet. For crying out loud I was being hauled to the med tent in a golf cart instead of front row on the verge of tears watching Griz. This year I’ll be singin’ a redemption song as I groove to “Knife,” “Yet Again” and “All We Ask.”

You Should Know, Volume II: Purity Ring

“Electronic music” is such a broad genre, and Purity Ring showcases that fact. Don’t allow your mind to leap too quickly to Swedish House Mafia or Benni Benassi…This duo hails from Canada, which could perhaps explain why they create their live instrumentals using a tree? That’s right, Corin Roddick rocks a custom-built tree shaped contraption to make the ethereal dreampop that Purity Ring is known for. Combined with Megan James’ mythically toned vocals, these two deliver an indietronica experience that dances its way through your body.

Purity Ring performing at NXNE in Toronto. Photo source: wikimedia commons

Purity Ring performing at NXNE in Toronto. Photo source: wikimedia commons

Their haunting sound takes me places. Be sure to catch their set at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Really, you’re cray if the idea of a tree producing such layered sounds does not catch your attention. Purity Ring is one of the best new artists to surface in the festival circuit this year. Whether you’re trying to relax, study, raise your spirits or just listen to an incredible sound, this is it. You should know. Props to my girl Addie for turning me on to them!

*Note: this is one of those groups that yields strange Google results…

 

You Should Know, Volume I: Alabama Shakes

(Pieter M. van Hattem / Contour by Getty Images, photo souce: thedailybeast.com)

(Pieter M. van Hattem / Contour by Getty Images, photo souce: thedailybeast.com)

As a new weekly series (or perhaps more frequent…there’s a lot of wonderful stuff out there), get ready for You Should Know. Here, I will spotlight artists and tracks that are lesser known. Basically, if you haven’t heard this yet you should probably hit “play.” For a while, I’ll be focusing on artists playing at the 2013 Coachella Music and Arts Festival because I have heard quite a few folks point out that they are unfamiliar with many of this year’s acts. YOU SHOULD KNOW.

For the first in this series, I have chosen Alabama Shakes. They were nominated for three Grammy’s this year and I’m so glad to see that they’re getting the attention they deserve. They hail from, where else, Alabama, and lead singer Brittany Howard’s voice gives me some serious shakes–in the best kind of way of course. Their sound draws from afro-soul, Southern rock, and the blues; if you’re a Black Keys fan, you should probably already have their album Boys and Girls in your music library. Give their hit “Hold On” a listen, but for now check out this live recording from Virginia’s WNRN Radio of one of my favorites, “I Found You.” If it doesn’t knock you off your feet, you probably weren’t listening.

I’m glad to see rock ‘n roll coming back to center stage and I was in no way prepared for that comeback to be such a flooring experience. Ladies and gentlemen, you might want to grab a glass of whiskey for this one: