Mixtapes, Music

The May 2015 Playlist

Unforeseen reasons deny totes destroyed my attempts to create an April 2015 playlist.

Commentary, because you deserve it:

  • RedRed feat Sarkodie – Ghetto This is a happy fucking song, with a happy video (shot in Accra, Ghana, btw). I would dance to it till the cows come home. RedRed is a dish from Ghana made with (ahem) blackeyed peas, and the musicians hail from Ghana and Budapest. What a combination, I say.
  • Lydia Ainsworth – Malachite Such an evocative and kooky artiste. Reminds me of the likes of Grimes and My Brightest Diamond, especially in the myriad influences in the music. The video is a single take, and sometimes I feel like I should do a playlist of single-take videos. She is performing in Pasadena on June 6, I am so there!
  • Ratatat – Chrome When I heard Ratatat first, I was going to dismiss them as generic 80s-influenced band, but then I discovered that they do fascinating things with the electric guitar. Ratatat’s new album comes out in July – they played a set at Coachella this year, and that’s where this track premiered. The freakiest thing about the innocuous video happens around 1:00, keep your eye on the screen. Oh look, the neon lights from the Malachite video make an appearance in this one. (And it’s kinda single-take too, if you consider the static camera)
  • Royksopp – I Had This Thing Goddammit, how much better can this band get? The song is from their 2014 album The Inevitable End, and for the longest time I thought that was it – khattam-shud for Royksopp. Thankfully it’s not, they have a Kafka-themed album coming soon. Vocals on this song about a break-up are by Jamie Irrepressible, and the lyrics/video/feel of it is otherworldly.Yet another exhibit to prove my hypothesis that we should outsource all music-making to the Scandinavian countries.
  • Brandon Flowers – I Still Want You Sometimes this song makes me feel like it’s one of those Hugh Grant pastiche songs from a Richard Curtis romcom. But then I listen to it more closely and it has this peculiar class to it – the mellow chorus, the female backing voices. Flowers, going solo off his Killers gig for the second time, gives off a charming Jagger/Bowie vibe in the video, albeit a little more accessible version.
  • Zella Day – Hypnotic Zella Day has been making waves recently with one of her songs in the Divergent OST, though she has been around since 2012. I kinda think I like this song more because of the slightly-NSFW video but I don’t deny how it grew on me.
  • Ryan Hemsworth – Snow in Newark I ventured inside an interesting-looking store called VNYL, on Abbot Kinney in Venice ( the American, not the Italian version, just to confirm) who sold vinyl records and record players. They had some great records available for listening, and I pounced on the Purity Ring album just because I wanted to see if it sounded better on vinyl (it did, though not 600$ better). The sweet lady helping me out also mentioned that she liked FKA Twigs and – Ryan Hemsworth, who I hadn’t heard of. This was the first of Hemsworth tracks that I heard. For a song with ‘Newark’ in its name, it was shot in Nepal. Go figure.
  • Jim James – State of the Art (AEIOU) I had added the Regions of Light and Sound of God album to my Spotify albums because I had seen Jim James pop up in some best-of list, but had dismissed them after one listen because of the slight religious tone to the songs. I revisited it recently thanks to the TV show The Blacklist, where this particular song was used to brilliant effect. Repeat listens have convinced me that this album is a work of astonishing depths, from beginning to end. The way the bass and drums kick in in this particular track – subhanallah!
  • Chromeo – Jealous Such a fun 80s throwback. I have been tripping on the album since N, a lady with wonderful and much eclectic taste in music (and mutual interest in art, literature and other assorted things of beauty), pointed me to it. Apparently they are performing in Santa Barbara next month with Com Truise. Worth the 2.5 hour drive? Watch this space.
  • Lisa Hannigan – Song of the Sea The most unlikely song to appear on this playlist. But this is the most unlikely of movies I have seen this year – on my last evening in Spain, when we were all mellow and looking to do something together – with the kids, Pablo suggested this movie. I mistook it for an anime at first, but Secret of Kells came up, and once the movie began, the gorgeous animation and music spoke for themselves. This haunting song (and its Irish version) stayed with me after.
  • TMJuke – Marbles and Drains This song came up in a random playlist that my pal Chuck was playing in his truck – umm, yeah, I know how that sounds. Very strange combination of a koto, flute and a breakbeat. I am usually skeptical of Asian take-out fare like this, but somehow it works here. And it made me go listen to Vangelis’s ‘Tao of Love’ later, a track that I hadn’t heard in years.
  • Cornershop feat Celeste – Non-Stop Radio Another recommendation from the lady N, who offered this in retribution for the extended listens of Yelle, Stromae and Zaz that I subjected her to. “Your kind of music”, she said. She was right, as usual.
  • Jabberwocky feat Elodie Wildstars – Photomaton French electronica: check. Sultry female voice: check. Slightly NSFW video: triple check. Pulsating ear-penis of a synth-line: yup. What’s not to love?
  • Flo Rida feat Robin Thicke & Verdine White While I like Flo Rida’s music, I cannot claim to be the biggest Robin Thicke fan in the world. But there is no denying the booty-shaking, hop-and-skip potential of this little ditty. It turned up in the Morning Commute playlist on Spotify, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already doing the radio rounds at the moment. The reliance on the Facebook UI in the video all but guarantees automatic minuscule half-life and time-capsule relegation, possibly by end of the year, maybe even earlier.
  • French Horn Rebellion – Swing Into It Ah, Electro-swing. A genre that I like quite a bit, but find myself unable to listen to for more than a few tracks at a time because it all begins to blend into one common sound after 15 minutes. (See also: reggae, country) But the few stray tracks that come forward every now and then manage to sustain my interest in the sound – and this song is one of them. Which makes me sound uncharitable towards it, I know, but bear with an old man’s rambling, yeah? Lovely use of scratches and beats and the single-take (again!) video, while a little poorly-lit for my taste, features excellent dancing. Almost as good as the fan-dance Parov Stelar track, you know which one I am talking about, yeah?
  • Fallulah – Dragon Ah, the pleasures of revisiting an old favorite. Fallulah’s 2013 album Escapism finally released worldwide this month, and this track’s video, made painstakingly by hand-drawn animation cels captures the whimsy of the song so perfectly. The art is like a nifty mashup of Noelle Stevenson and Tara McPherson’s work, and the symmetry of the neon-lit visuals is hypnotic. The music, ah, the music. Built around a nifty piano loop, the song cascades breathlessly with growling, simmering bass line, while the drums pack a brutal kick-punch combo in the background. Chinese violins rasp along with the chorus, keeping with the title of the track. Who’s got the key to your heart? This song and its singer, of course. (One of this days, I need to do a rave post on Fallulah’s Escapism. Someone remind me?)

All right, here we go.

I saw ads for Royal Blood’s album on the London Subway – whoever said anything about not judging an album by its cover? The music turned to be quite unlike the stuff I usually listen to, but who am I to deny the power of a guitar-bass-drum album? The video is incredible, of course.

You may argue that Trent Dabbs is country music and not worthy of your attention, but you would be doing yourself a disservice. He has worked with artistes like Katie Herzig, Hayden Panetierre (yes, that lady) and Ingrid Michaelson and his own voice sounds pretty darn good.

This Klangkarussell song is one of my default running songs, and I occasionally find myself wanting to scale skyscrapers and stare in the distance when the song plays – I am sure you will understand why. The sample of Salif Keita’s song Madan comes out of nowhere, and adds a lovely counterpoint to the buzzy synths that dominate the first half of the song. Also, can someone tell me which city this is shot in?

Robin Schulz’s remix of Lilly Wood and the Prick’s song seems to be definitive version – I mean, I am not even interested in finding out if there is an original and what it sounds like. That’s rare for a remix. Or maybe I am just lazy. I also keep misrepresenting this song as a ‘Robin Thicke’ remix, and then proceed to feel ashamed of myself. That guitar loop reminds me of Wankelnut and Asaf Avidan’s One Day.

Ice Cream by BATTLES is a delightfully kooky song, and the NSFW video (don’t blink) just adds to the flavor. 1:55 is my favorite part of the video. The video for Karma Fields’ Build the Cities is equally trippy. Wait for 1:40. The drum patterns remind me of a great Kirsty Hawkshaw song I heard back in the day. Hmm, I should probably go listen to more Kirsty Hawkshaw.

I am in an intimate relationship with the new Purity Ring album at the moment, and I cannot contemplate talking about any of their music with any semblance of objectivity. Go listen to ‘Another Eternity’, their new album if you have time on your hands. You could also listen to this great collaboration with Jon Hopkins. Another guy whose album Late Night Tales is on my current playlist rotation.

Message To Bears turned up in a Spotify ambient playlist, and it is one of the songs that suddenly wash over you when you are trying to concentrate on whatever you’re doing, and make you stop and listen to it with all your attention. It makes me want to go walk along the beach in the evening while holding hands with someone.

Salt Cathedral glided into my life via Spotify Discover, my default way of finding out music that appeals to me. Short album, but overflowing with whispery percussion patterns, gentle glitches and delicate harmonies. It’s funny – and oddly satisfying – how the songs that stick to you on the first listen have the best videos.

‘Sugar in My Coffee’ by Caught a Ghost played on the season premiere (finale?) of The Blacklist. I didn’t stick with the series beyond a few episodes but the song keeps coming back. A beautiful combination of gospel choruses, a bassline that threatens to eat you alive, and catchy lyrics. There is a live version by the band that I like quite a bit too.

How do you not listen to someone called Com Truise? His music is ironically futuristic, and a whole lot of fun. The album that this song comes from is my favorite end-to-end listen on freeway drives. Makes you want to crank the music up really high, feel the wind in your hair and bop your head at passing cars. I think I may buy a black leather jacket just to live up to this song on my speakers.

Indila blew my mind (and yours too, I hope) with ‘Derniere Danse’ a year or so ago. The other song of hers that I liked a lot was ‘S.O.S’, but it was when I heard her album all the way through that I realized how good she really is. This song is all grace, elegance and tenderness wrapped in a waltz.

The Lottery Winners remind me of Metronomy, Cake and the Barenaked Ladies – all bands with a propensity to look awkwardly into the camera while talking of broken hearts and shattered dreams, albeit with upbeat melodies and patterns in the background. The video for this is creepy and sad at the same time, while the song is endearing.

Las Cafeteras keeps performing in Los Angeles, and I mean to go see them soon. This particular song is a remix, but captures the Chicano/feminist soul of their music quite well.

I missed seeing Madeon in Brussels, boo. And his concert in LA is sold out. His new album Adventure is killing it, and you ought to check it out. His music and videos are full of cryptic messages that people are working hard to decipher, and that adds an extra level of enjoyment to his music. This song features Passion Pit, yet another band that I would love to see again.

Ooh, do not listen to Nils Frahm at night. Especially if you are alone. Every plink on his piano is like someone touching your spine with fingers of ice. Goddammit, what an amazing artist!

I have been traveling. Most of the music I have been listening to are offline Spotify playlists, and both new and old tracks find their way into this playlist because of that.

I love Imogen Heap. While most of the songs in her new album Sparks are familiar – they have been slowly released over the last 4 or 5 years – the Bicycle Song was new to me. It was also my track of choice when walking around Gangtok earlier this month, though the song and video are both set in Bhutan.

Mausi’s ‘Move’ turned up in a Morning Commute Spotify playlist a few months ago, and I heard it again recently.

I never knew that a band called Ramona Flowers existed until this cool girl from Pakistan I met told me she saw them live a few months ago. My Scott Pilgrim cred received a crushing blow!

I missed actress Leighton Meester’s residency at the Hotel Cafe in January. But I remedied that by listening to her songs – they are fascinating, and I am tempted to say that she is a better musician than an actress. I may be wrong.

I did make it to Elizaveta’s concert in Venice, at the Witzend – barely two miles from where I live. Turns out she is a Venice local, makes it easier for me to stalk her. Er, I didn’t say that aloud, did I? Her voice gives me goosebumps, and trust me when I say that none of what you hear in this album version is autotuned, though it may sound that way.

FKA Twigs continues to intrigue me in the right kind of ways. I love her music, her videos and her overall attitude. I have been relentlessly missing her shows for some reason or the other – she performs in LA again on April, the same evening as Stromae, and I don’t mess around with a Stromae concert, unfortunately. But soon.

I have absolutely no recollection of how I stumbled onto the Shy Girls. This remix is not really representative of their music, but makes for a great listen.

‘Pumpin Blood’ is another track that came up on the Morning Commute playlist, and it got my attention for the catchy chorus and the whistling.

Both the Caravan Palace track and the Avalanches track after it came up in a Youtube Faceoff at my place, when pal Wes played them in quick succession. He has incredible taste in music, but needs to listen to more Aphex Twin.

My affinity for Hotel Cafe performers is getting predictable, but Laleh is also Swedish, which adds a second spin to my love for her music. What a voice. What a song. Whoo hoo hoo!

I heard about Amason on KCRW. It’s a fucking bitch to search for them on Google, thanks to their similarity to an online store. I love the way Amanda’s voice oozes sensuality at multiple scales. Erm, they are Swedish as well.

Kleerup produced one of my favorite Robyn songs, and I believe I heard of him through her. Amazing 80s synth influences in his music, and Susanne Sundfør’s voice is to die for.

I have been obsessed with the Dø’s new album Shake Shook Shaken. This is the first song I heard online, and it is one of those rare tracks that sound incredible both on the album and live versions. I would attribute it to the band itself, because they are flawless on stage. Flawless, I tell you.

As I had mentioned before, it makes sense for me to keep playlists on YouTube. It makes for a great set to cast on the TV when there are guests around, helps me keep track of interesting music videos and also serves as an answer to the perennial “What are you listening to right now”-question. Here’s my playlist for January.


  • George Ezra’s glorious Ledbelly-inspired vocals jumped out at me during a Spotify Discover session. It also turned up in my a playlist that Spotify generated for me, and is probably the most played-song in that list.
  • Meiko’s new album is less sunny than The Bright Side, but still so good! The video is shot around DTLA, and parts of it in Hotel Cafe, one of my favorite music venues in Hollywood. I have been to 9 Meiko shows so far, and have heard this album evolve over the last year or two.
  • I don’t remember who linked to James’ new album – maybe it was Amanda Palmer? Love the quirkiness of the video and his voice.
  • I believe it was pal Delia who pointed me to Azure Ray a few months ago, and this is one of my favorite songs by the duo.
  • Pal Sarika had a friend who said “I heard this new artist named Fallulah, and she sounds like your kind of music.” She told me the same thing. I have been love with this Danish-Romanian songstress since, and it’s a pity she hasn’t released her album Escapism officially in the US yet.
  • MØ is another Scandinavian musician who released an album last year, and this DIY music video is just nuts.
  • Neulore was a band I heard on a random evening at the Hotel Cafe. I had no idea what band was playing that night – and they blew my mind.
  • I played Early Winters’ ‘Vanishing Act‘ to pal Suparn. He played ‘Young’ by the Paper Kites for me. That is a perfect example of music karma.
  • I was due to see Crash Kings live (at the Hotel Cafe again) but got stuck at work. Much sadness. Love their sound.
  • Yelle was The Act I Regret Missing last year. She played at the Fonda theater on Halloween night, and I did not want to brave the WeHo parade traffic.
  • Faul and Wad Ad’s song turned up on a dance playlist, and I was fascinated by the children’s chorus, the saxophone solo, and of course the fun video.
  • Pal Amos recommended Fatoumata Diawara because he heard her on an in-flight entertainment catalog and thought I would like her music. I did.
  • Plastiscines, Pony Pony Run Run and this particular Coeur de Pirate came to my attention thanks to pal AC, who played them back to back in a Youtube face-off contest we had one evening.
  • ‘Girls’ by the 1975 was brought to my attention by Max Landis on Twitter.

  • BONUS TRACK: because I am undecided about whether I like the MS MR remix or the original version of MØ’s ‘Pilgrim’.
Mixtapes, Music

The Second Fall Mix

Apparently it is easier to come up with a Youtube mix. Less effort, definitely, and pretty much the kind of no-frills accessibility that is missing from a Spotify playlist, for example. So here’s the second Fall Mix. I may just end up doing more of these mixes more frequently. Be warned, and be very, very afraid.