Mixtapes, Music

The First 2016 Playlist

I might as well stop arranging playlists by month. I started calling this the January 2016 playlist, but it’s already middle of February – and you will admit that’s kind of dumb.

Chairlift’s Moth is the first album I have fallen in love with this year. ‘Ch-Ching’ is the hallmark of the lot, featuring not one, not two, but three different hooks that latch on to your brain. Add to it the vogue-happy dance video featuring the lovely Caroline Polachek in that orange dress; the sexy brass riffs that sneak in and out of the vocals; the random “ow”s and “whoo”s punctuating the track. Patrick Wimberly’s drum programming – specifically the use of the rimshot and finger-clicks, and that wonderful ratatat drum phrase – also a winner. 27-99-23, y’all.

I saw Father John Misty live at Treasure Island Music Fest last year, and this zany song —accompanied by a video that is filled with Kanye-West-level of self-love — is one of my favorite tracks from his new album I Love You Honeybear. 

Gunship makes tripped-out electropop. This video has He-Man, Hellraiser, and a host of other B-show video tributes in claymation.

Is ‘Kamikaze’ the solo song that makes MØ explode on the mainstream scene? The lady made her name with her 2014 album (‘Pilgrim’ featured on one of my earlier playlists) and collaborations with Ariana Grande and Major Lazer, but the upcoming studio album with Diplo producing sounds like it’s on another level altogether. The tune’s so infectious, and the main instrumental riff (which sounds like a shakuhachi blended with a celtic violin) gets into your head faster than the fumes from a 43-year old bottle of Glendronach. ‘Take me to the party/kami kami kaze’ doesn’t make much sense, but sometimes a song doesn’t have to. Yet another vogue video, and it’s not a coincidence.

If you think Lana Del Rey is vapid and commercial music, you haven’t been paying attention – I don’t care if she is. She has her West Coast gangsta style melded with classic pop/rock  routine down pat (listen to the guitar riff and the tonal shift at 1:18. Isn’t that a Beatles chord from ‘And I Love Her’?), and it works so well. I have heard three different versions of this song, and they all bring different things to the table. The original is classic Lana, and the (mostly) black-and-white video gets bonus points for being shot in Marina del Rey, my hood till a few months ago.

One of the many songs that sample Quantic Soul Orchestra’s track ‘Pushin On’, ‘Triburbia’ is a delectable goblet of funk served chilled. Caution: It will stir and shake you.

Speaking of delectable, Pal William introduced me to the joys of New Jersey-born Melody Gardot. Add to that velvety-chocolate voice some old-school orchestral strings floating in the background, with a jazz brush-drum beat that patters like raindrops on windows, and you have ‘Baby I’m A Fool’. Yum.

If there was a playlist of music videos to get high to, Rone’s ‘Bye Bye Macadam’ would fall squarely under the psychedelia section. Observe how deceptively simple the song is, a miasma of sawtooth waves over a drum and bass track. I am starting to get into Rone’s discography now, and have high hopes.

NEW FALLULAH ALBUM END OF FEBRUARY, BITCHES! She has released 4 singles from the new album so far, and they are oh-so-wonderful.The tremolo in her voice makes my knees go weak every single time, and her use of the female chorus is flawless. Lovely to see an artiste grow so much over the years and still maintain a unique identity. Go check out ‘Perfect Tense’, the titular single from the album, also out on Youtube.

I heard the second part of this schizophrenic song first – ‘Dystopia’. ‘The earth is on fire/We don’t have no daughter/let the motherfucker burn’ was something that got into my head instantly. Found out the first part ‘Utopia’, and it was like Kraftwerk ate mushrooms and had wild monkey sex with a Korg arpeggiator to come up with alien disco music. SO much fun!

Fenech-Soler is an electronic outfit from Northamptonshire in the UK, which puts them in the same geographical location as The Magus of Northampton – consider this a gratuitous way for me to mention my favorite writer, who I haven’t talked about in a while. But their music is great. This song’s from their second album, which came out in 2013, and

Jarryd James’ ‘Do You Remember’ feels me with dread for some reason. Maybe it’s the ominous chords, or the layered voices. Or maybe the earnestness in the voice appeals to me and I am in denial.

I keep getting turned off by the sameness of the Indian live music shows – Coke Studio, MTV Unplugged, Dewarists and so on, but occasionally a song pops out and makes me jump right back in. Ram Sampath’s set, in particular his cover of the traditional Oriya ‘Rangabati’ did that recently. Sona Mahapatra puts heart and soul into her rendition, and watching the video makes me grin at the sheer joy of her performance – obviously her familiarity with the language helps, observe the change in expression when she says “Tuhu tuhu’ at 2:51. Tony & Rajesh’s rap kick your teeth in (not as much as when they sing the other Bharatiyar Love Rap) and Rituraj Mohanty is stellar. What a song!

The Chainsmokers’ ‘Let You Go’ is a perfect LA song. Shout-out to the Last Bookstore – and holy shit, never thought of it as a make-out zone. Runyon Canyon too, ha! The first comment on that video tells you exactly what to expect though, so er, be warned.

Yeah, there’s a band called British India. Yup, they’re pretty damn good. They’re from Australia, and contrary to my aversion to standard guitar bands, they have proved to be a good exception. The video is weird in a nice way.

Toldja I am a Chairlift fan, so had to end the playlist with the other song from their album that’s stuck in my head. This one has a crunchy rock guitar, pumping beats, and Caroline at her awkward best in the video. ‘Hey Romeo/Put on your running shoes, I am ready to go’ makes me want to go start running again. I probably should, right?

Mixtapes, Music

The Return of the Monthly Playlist: August 2015

Yeah, I seem to have been remiss in updating the monthly playlists, so here’s a double-dose of music for the last two months. I did create the playlists, but somehow did not get around to creating a post.

Commentary below:

Chvrches is one of those bands that I like the sound of, but kind of feel that their first album got lost in the wave of similar-sounding synthpop albums that came out around the same time, with female vocalists. Or maybe it’s because there are way too many such bands in my ambit. This is the first single from their new album, due to release end of September, and to say I am obsessed by the song and the video is understating it. The sound and themes are linked to Purity Ring’s ‘Another Eternity’, an album that has captured my heart since it released early this year. It is the three-note sawtooth riff that got my attention, but the pulsating chorus is what really drew me in. And holy shit, Lauren Mayberry (singer, song-writer, drummer girl and journalist? Talk about over-achieving!) is so SHINY in that video, in the Whedonian sense of the term.

I stumbled on ‘Hanging On’, and it took me a few anguished days of confusion to figure out why it sounded so maddeningly familiar – Ellie Goulding had covered it. The original version runs circles around the cover, Pat Grossi’s voice and arrangements are just heartbreakingly beautiful. It always struck me as a water song, for some reason, and it’s gratifying to see the video.

I have no idea how Hot Chip manages to make every single one of their albums sound so fresh and intriguing. This track is from their newest album Why Make Sense?, and it’s dancey as fuck.

I heard Trifonic’s Emergence around the same time as BT’s This Binary Universe, mostly because the latter got me searching for albums with a similar sound. I was listening to BT’s pseudo-follow-up to TBU, called If the Stars Are Eternal So Are You and I, and obviously revisited Emergence. Much like the revisiting old haunts, this took me down a different head-space. ‘Good Enough’ is the last song in the album, and the acoustic guitar strum is what gets me every time. (1:52, wait for it)

Kyla LaGrange is an English singer with South African/Zimbabwean roots and the kind of voice that feels like a delicious scoop of ice-cream on a warm summer day. The steel drum loop gives it a bouncy calypso vibe. Love it.

Pretty fucking genius to use GTAV (that’s the iconic game from Rockstar Studios, for those who came in late) game-play and cut-scenes to make the video for this song. Reminds me of Com Truise. I would try and describe their sound but the official description works just fine – “a neon soaked, late night, sonic getaway drive, dripping with analog synthesizers, cinematic vocals and cyberpunk values, all exploding from the front cover of a dusty plastic VHS case which has lain forgotten since 1984”. Like a Nicholas Wending Refn wet dream.

Israeli band Garden City Movement’s ‘Move On’ is the kind of track you want to get high and make out to. ‘Nuff said. Oh, and kinda NSFW video. So’s M83’s ‘Wait’, that comes along a few tracks later and Alpine’s ‘Gasoline’.

Jazz and electronic music come together in BadBadNotGood’s works, and ‘Can’t Leave The Night’ definitely goes places. I love how the drum and bassline takes over around 1:00, after the dreampop beginning. Breakestra’s ‘Come On Over’ is more funk than jazz, and I love the ever-loving shit out of it.

Trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf pays haunting tribute to the place of his birth in a trippy 11 minute track. The lead instrument, at times, sounds like it’s talking to you; at times a whisper, at times raucously laughing along to a joke it knows and wants you to hear, and sometimes, it just wants you to give in. I gave in.

Sir Sly’s ‘You Haunt Me’ sounds way better in the AMTRAC remix. Seriously, try listening to the original after you have heard this, no comparison at all. Wonderful when a song’s texture and feel changes completely in a different mix.

Kate Boy makes the dirtiest, illest riffs ever. Such a distinctive sound this song has, with just the right kind of thematic connection to their earlier ‘Northern Lights’, which blew my mind a few years ago. A song like this needs to be followed by something as dreamy as ‘Technicolor Beat’, just so your heart calms down. An aural relaxant, let’s say.

Don’t you love the name ‘Whilk and Misky’? The flamenco guitars and claps, the voice, and especially the moment when the bass drums jump in – this feels like the perfect summer song.

Laura Welsh’s moment of fame came this year with the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack, but it is this song that made me fall for her. Reminds me of the likes of Modern Talking and Laura Brannigan.

Sometimes, you just want a song like ‘Cheerleader’ playing in your life. No pretension, no deep lyrics, just something you can bop your head – and body – to.

The saddest thing about listening to Burial’s ‘Archangel’ for the first time is wondering why I hadn’t it heard it so far, and the crippling thought that there is so much great music that I haven’t heard yet. This song (and album) came out in 2007, can you believe it?

Did you like this? Which track did you like/hate the most? Do you know music that you think I may like? Did you think my commentary is annoying? Does my taste suck? Talk to me at beatzo@gmail.com, or leave a comment.