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.


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

A Fall Mix

I haven’t done one of these in a while, and since pal Sai decided to nudge me ever so gently the other day, here we go again. 14 songs, 1 hour, a snapshot of music I have been tripping on the last few months (weeks?) For a change, there are no mp3s, just a Youtube playlist, and I hope they are accessible from around the world.