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Shaka Ponk — My Name Is Stain

fuck you if you don't rock with EMPT. Catch us in the Space Age.

I know you’re all feeling the darkness here today, but there’s no reason to give in. No matter what you’ve heard, this process will not take years. In my heart I know we cannot be defeated because there is an answer that will open the door. There is a way around this system. This is a test of our patience and commitment. One good idea could win someone over. [Mad Men]

I’m going to stop feeding some of you posers out there that come to us only when in-need instead of everyday. EMPT is a cult. It is an elite task force of shadow troops solely dedicated to the pursuit of truth, justice and perfect music. It is unfiltered insight and perspective into some of the music and artists out there that envelop our everyday lives.

Originally, I had trouble with this song, not because I don’t love the tune, but more because I couldn’t find a way to connect to it. I’ve spent weeks with this song on repeat and still couldn’t figure out what it was that originally attracted me towards it. Has that ever happened to you? You find yourself with something that you are having trouble remembering as to why you and “it” are even dealing with one another?

I guess that happens to us all with some things, right? Anyway, I struggled with putting words into the music and I think that’s where I went wrong.

I didn’t start writing because of my love for words. I, in particular, began writing because the power the words contain when providing them with your thoughts can be limitless. When I began writing about music, I then became fascinated by the power that music could give to words. I once believed that thoughts were the most powerful thing in the world — now I believe that thoughts, embedded into music, are God.

Shaka Ponk is an experimental rock band from Paris. I honestly don’t know much about them to provide you with any details about them, but any quick search on Google will lead you to them instantly. What I do know is that the moment I heard, “My Name Is Stain” I instantly gravitated towards it. Whether it was the reggae groove it maintained throughout, or, what I perceived to be semi-revolutionary lyrics embedded within this medley of great sounds, it’s a song that fits seamlessly anywhere:

War to the east, Pain to the west
War is at least, What we do ‘best
What we do best is sharing guns
and kill for fun there must be a reason”

It’s a new day at EMPT and the energies all around us seem aroused—but now it’s time to show and prove. We have been here before, in another version of this matrix, only, we are headed towards a different path this time. I take responsibility for not being more militant and honest with my feelings about the world to you guys, but that’s about to change because things are only getting worse out there and we have a revolution to tend to.

Anyway, stick around for a while, we have a few discussions to have with you that we are sure you will enjoy, and, a hell of a lot more sick music coming your way by my fellow peers over at EMPT. Our new EIC and the new writers coming on board inspire me to sharpen these letters/words and give you a lot more of the authenticity behind them rather than to disrespect — the music, the creative minds behind the songs, and you, our truest musical peer.

(Merci à shaka ponk pour cettes paroles)” —cp’14

Shaka Ponk — My Name Is Stain

To Ash: (thx for the kick in the ass earlier today; needed it.)
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Mapei – Don’t Wait (The Driver Edit)

Cyrus wrote a post earlier this week about living in extremes, and I can’t help but feel like there’s something in the air that’s making us all somehow exist on the same wavelength in this month. It might be the Spring weather that teased us last weekend in New York, the following weeklong headache that ensued thanks to a mid-week snow storm, or the strangely synced up astrological patterns of April. Whatever it is, I’ve been thinking non-stop about my fluctuation of moods. I couldn’t put my finger on it all week, and I eventually broke down in tears for no reason only to realize shortly after that I was so thankful for that breakdown. Whatever it was that this week had in store for me was building up to one moment and it was all going to be okay, whatever that moment was. This week, I experienced a range of emotions including extreme anger, and total sadness, then utter and uninhibited joy. And all of these things came together to make me realize that I was not only successfully going through the motions of life, but that I was doing so passionately.

Living in extremes is incredible. It’s something that requires skill and courage. But give yourself some credit for your ability to go through the trials and tribulations of life, because we don’t always need to numb it down and neutralize our brains. We’re capable of experiencing the full array of pitches that come our way — it’s just a question of whether or not we actually want to. But not wanting to means not wanting to live and fully participate, so what’s the other option? This city is a treasure chest of discovery every single day, and while it’s easy to get frustrated about the fact that one may not always meet the right people who are on the same levels of energy at any given point, it’s truly something worth relishing once found. It makes that discovery truly treasure, and if there is a connection to be had, that connection is all the more powerful.

I think that’s why this song fits in with this week. It’s a Friday jam with Monday’s sensitivity. The original track was one that played over and over in my house when my roommate and I first heard it, and this edit only amps up the original quality in a way that truly transcends. The slight beat change matches almost too well to make it quite literally, the perfect edit. If you look up The Driver on Google though, you won’t find much. He’s relatively new, based out of SF. After having spoken to him and having the pleasure of knowing that we’re both musical obsessors, I can assure you that he will be cranking out more music and more of a social presence on the internet in the coming months. In the meantime, let this sensual tune help you experience and find an emotion perhaps you were too scared to experience earlier this week. Once found, promise that you’ll just go with it.

Maipei – Don’t Wait (The Driver Edit)

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Vok – Before

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Part of the problem with being a music obsessive is occasionally (okay, all the time) overanalyzing. It’s too easy to be picky in the face of an endless stream of new music. If a song bothers me in even the slightest way, I may not give it another shot.

This is, unequivocally, the wrong way to approach music (and all art, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole here). Preference is context dependent: what’s the weather like? Am I relaxed? Who showed me the track? If you catch a wonderful piece of art at the wrong moment, you do it and its creator a disservice.

I had this problem with Vok’s “Before.” The talented Icelandic duo have very few public tracks, and after digging “Tension” (check it out on Soundcloud) I had high hopes for “Before.” But when I started listening, I immediately began to analyze.

“Okay, the voice is reminiscent of Tegan and Sara, Oh Land and Karin Dreijer Andersson. The backing riff, and the multi-gender vocal layering is pure XX, but not nearly as creative.”

That was it for me. I couldn’t get past how derivative the song felt.

I deserved a firm open palm slap to the face. What’s wrong with a band sounding like three artists I like a lot, and one I love (Karin)? The song is easy listening. I’ve never heard such funky chillwave. And as someone who takes an artists full output into consideration when forming my opinion, I couldn’t help but get excited about Vok’s future when placing “Before” and “Tension” side by side. To use a sports reference (does anyone who read this blog follow sports too?), Vok’s ceiling is (XX + The Weeknd)/Rhye. Their floor is “Before.”

Learn from my errant ways: let the music do the talking.

Vok – Before

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Put It On – Big L (J1K remix)

The people of London walk through the streets, never to look up at the sky which is littered with cranes and clouds and other peoples faces. Why would you look up for that. A solace can be found in the words of hip-hop here though. Maybe it’s something about the clouds, good match for the weather. It is a week where my headphones have rarely been removed, keeping the sounds of the street, the emptiness of peoples phone calls and pub talks kept at bay. A blanket of numbness somehow found its way around my exterior. The frustration I thought I left in America appears to have transmuted and loosened from my core, now creating a blasé sheath on my edges. This appears to be fine as most of the people you walk by seem to have the same fashion sense.

The appeal of hip-hop comes in when you need to feel again. You crave that raw – whatever it is you need. Blocked out. Let it flood back. No longer is it a stigma for a white girl who grew up in middle-class America to have a solid playlist with the likes of hip-hop royalty. One may argue a good artist is one who can create something that a majority of people can interpret, can relate to in a personal way. I never could relate to an Andy Warhol, which I suppose is ironic since I work in marketing. Cheeky guy. But Jackson Pollock? He is hip-hop: a canvas covered in wild paint and mess and sh*t all over it. It feels good. There is something there. It’s rough, exciting. That is what hip-hop feels like to me. It’s a release not a replica. Anthems are created when you have a call to action. Put it on. The haze of the City blankets, the cobblestone alleys and thick accents, which is fine as you will hear me humming this anthem.

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Here is a remix of the 1994 classic, “Put It On.” A tune that is made to say, do what you need to do; a song that can crack shells and backs with its words; a beat that is the perfect walking pace, if you walk like you know where you are going.

Put It On – Big L (J1K Remix)

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Lana Del Rey – West Coast

Glamorous, classic and cinematic, Lana Del Rey absolutely crushed her Coachella set like nothing I’ve seen in my lifetime. It was retro future at it’s best. I’m starting to realize that Lana is just as much of a visual artist as she’s a singer. Every single detail and camera angle was flawless. The music was amazing not just for song quality but also in terms of how well it complimented everything else she was doing. Time and space totally changed and we went into Lana’s world and it was truly remarkable. I knew she was good, I didn’t know she was a master. I’m from New York and everything about me screams it but 2 years in California and I can’t pretend like the West Coast isn’t where it’s at. It took us about an hour and a half to drive from Downtown LA to the festival, two hours and we were literally in the desert. Since I moved here I’ve been on a journey toward personal growth and everything about Cali promotes development.

Hollywood is fake, everyone knows that. Some people get trapped because they can’t see the facade but that’s just the top layer. What’s really at hand is the ability to create yourself in whatever light you desire…

People cut themselves off from their ties of old life when they come to Los Angeles. They are looking for a place where they can be free, where they can do things they couldn’t do anywhere else.” – Tom Bradley

We’re all made in the image of the ultimate creator and that means that we’re little creators. The life you want is waiting for YOU to create it. You need to visualize every single detail, see yourself as who you want to be, surround yourself with those who inspire you and make your vision come true. This weekend and California in general has helped me realize that more than ever. It also makes me realize that I want to live all over the world and be inspired by the energy of those places. Cheers to that, this is Lana’s new jam West Coast which she premiered live last night.

Lana Del Rey – West Coast

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Du Tonc — Surging Memories

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“The world is changing. If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what’s happening right underneath your nose.” —NAS

We’re the kind of society that complains in the Summers about them being much too hot and us being way over them, and in the same year complain about our Winters—them being too cold for comfort, and us being way over them too. When we get too much love from someone, some of us complain about being way too smothered by them, yet, the moment we start to become ignored we are just as fast to complain about getting no love. We dramatize and exaggerate the things that happen in our lives because we enjoy animation; animation, makes things so much better.

We fall out of love sometimes as quickly as we fall in, but we rarely seem to remember that our hearts have much control over all of our minds, and with this sudden case of temporary amnesia we also seem to forget that the heart has a way of connecting the tiniest dots, and in doing so, it takes our minds to the places that could have been. Within these temporary travels through the various dimensions of the universe, we reflect on past loves; not so much because we miss the person, but because we want to indulge in a moment of pure bliss that we could use the energy from right now.

Surging Memories by Du Tonc takes me back to a moment where everything in life was that way for me. A time in my life where every beautiful thing that I saw throughout the day took me back to a moment or time of pure bliss. Some days, those moments existed with one particular girl who was a prominent love in my life, and other times with another. This is how I began to become aware that it was never really the girl that provided these moments of pure bliss that I loved to reflect on—it was the scenario and small calculations around us that had to take place for those blissful milliseconds to occur that I was enchanted by. In that period of time I also realized that it was impossible for me, personally, to ever forget someone that I said, “I Love You” to. I realized that I just don’t love that way. I don’t love someone today and forget all about them tomorrow. In fact, I don’t think I could ever forget about any of my most passionate loves. I’ve also learned that this is quite normal behavior, and that the next person that loves you and that you fall madly in love with will love this crazy way about how you love the world.

Two worlds apart,
I don’t want to leave the road that’s lead us here.”

Surging Memories is the song that will let you know that although living “in-the-moment” is a pretty awesome experience and way of life, that sometimes remembering past moments of awesomeness is that much needed dessert that the mind might need in order to make tomorrow, or the nanoseconds that are about to follow, just that much more awesome. It’s a summertime, “we are oh! so ready for you” tune that will make you feel good, help you remember what falling in love with the world all over again is like, and still allow you the space that you need to continue on your new path once the song has ended.

I get so high,
I never want to come back down. —Du Tonc.”

Du Tonc — Surging Memories

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MisterWives – Money On My Mind (Sam Smith Cover)

Here are some questions to start this thought.

What do you want?

Why are you doing what you do?

Both of these lead to the bigger question, what are you getting out of it? What is your reward? I recently did a study on reward systems in the workplace (riveting  I know). What kind of reward are you after? Most people are searching for something extrinsic like more money or something tangible. Or are you are in it for the intrinsic pay-off, the feeling of empowerment or the recognition? When you are sitting at a desk or behind the counter, we all reflect on this moment at some point or another. If you get your reward, will it be enough?

Aside from playing this Sam Smith cover on repeat, these questions have beckoned an answer in my mind. When you look at what you gave up to get closer to what you want, was it worth it? Was the payoff there? D0 you just want more? Of course, this might not have anything to do with your job or career or professional whatever you are doing, it goes beyond that.

The saying is when you do what you want, you never work a day. But to get to what you want, how many minutes, hours, days, decades are you will willing to give up for it?

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MisterWives swoons in this Sam Smith cover. The vocals smooth and howl  through each verse. The lyrics of the song point out that this reward is not for money. It’s not for anyone else even.  The reward is enlightenment. It’s release. It’s heaven. We should all be in search of our reward. Although I am looking for the big pay-off.

When I signed my deal
I felt pressure
Don’t wanna see the numbers
I wanna see heaven
You say, could you write a song for me?
I say, I’m sorry I won’t do that happily

There will be a moment when business school, two jobs, long commutes, and self-doubt pay off. But at this point, I got money on my mind.

MisterWives – Money On My Mind (Sam Smith Cover)

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Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite

I’ve been listening to this one Todd Terje track nonstop for the past two weeks. When I walk down the street, I assume everybody else knows that I’m listening to this song because of the way I’m half dancing half walking, and because it matches almost every mood I’m ever in while walking the streets. But seriously, when was the last time you listened to a song riddled in synths that sounded this magical?

In high school (and to this day) a friend and I would always pick apart songs that had jazzy arpeggios. We’d sit in his attic bedroom and talk about songs with inadvertent arpeggios and sing along with them while using our fingers to kind of skip along with each note in the air. Coincidentally, we’re both string instrument players — he plays the cello, I play the violin. Since then, I’ve always paid attention and had a secret crush on unique chord progressions in songs. Arpeggios, key changes, slides between notes…all of that, tickles my classically trained musical brain. And I love it even more when it comes to my attention when I’m not expecting it. Aka, this song.

There’s another song like that: “Harlem” by Bill Withers. You guys know what I’m talking about. The key change that won’t stop climbing. (Do yourself a favor and actually watch that live recording, it’s soul shaking good.) Anyways, if Todd Terje can make me think of Bill Withers (and that’s not a direct comparison because lord knows the two could not be more different, musically), then I’m a happy woman. Because I love both of these music makers. In “Delorean Dynamite,” It’s not only the meticulous attention to where each note goes and what role it plays in the melody of the track, but the new elements that are introduced with each “verse.” I use quotations because there aren’t literal verses in this track, but I’d definitely argue that there are parts. The waves of an electronic story begin with a low, slowly climb to a medium, return to a low, rise to a climax, then back to a medium, and then another climax. That ultimate climax is where all of the elements introduced in each bit earlier come together, almost like the final act before the end of a play.

I’m obligated to inform you all that this is off Todd Terje’s first album ever. That’s right. Our homie has managed to create a name for himself over the course of the past ten or so years, having never released an album. The album is aptly titled, It’s Album Time. Self awareness is a hugely admirable quality in any musician, and I am truly grateful that he realized that it was, indeed, album time. This may be one of my favorite electronic records of the year. The transcendent melodic story that’s told over the course of these tracks is historical and tough to refuse. But I won’t get into the technicalities of the album — that’s for another post on another day. Today, you’re traveling through multiple galaxies in alternate universes, and this is the song that plays on your spaceship. Cheers to that.

Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite

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Romare – Your Love (You Give Me Fever)

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Frantic footwork for your Friday via none other than grand-sample-master, Romare. This fever-ridden track, off his sophomore album, Love Songs: Pt. 1, is a trip and a half with a whole lot of soul. Its languid beginning is somewhat deceptive; a vocal cut from Peggy Lee’s ”Fever” loops over a downtempo shuffle with a minimal footwork foundation, hardly foreshadowing the chaos to ensue.

Sexy yet subtle, its gradual crescendo hooks you. It burns you and then drops you into a raving abyss. Syncopated ecstastic droning bliss washes over you; the sirens are wailing, the bass is flailing, and holy sh*t this is the most real and raw interpretation of “Fever”, ever.

When you put your arms around me… 

Romare – Your Love (You Give Me Fever)

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Little Dragon – Klapp Klapp

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It’s a known fact that we love Little Dragon. They may well be EMPT’s most posted artist. For good reason.

Yukimi Nagano, the group’s lead singer, is a force of nature. Her voice maintains its singular sound regardless of the sonic mayhem playing out in the background, and her octaval range brings excitement to songs that, with any other vocalist, would take a turn to the listless. Nagano is the constant, the bedrock of a band that has changed dramatically in sound and ambition since its earliest days.

Nagano, Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass) and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards) formed Little Dragon in high school, and released their first commercial single, “Twice”/”Test” nearly a decade later. Listen to “Twice.” It remains, for my money, their best song, a heart wrenching dive into the smoky heart of a stranger.

In the eight years since, Little Dragon has steadily climbed the ladder from underground club fodder to legitimate arena headliner. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live four times, most recently in November. They had a cold, outdoor crowd moving. Their shows bounce between friendly pop, experimental rythmics, noise rock and heavy dubstep. Yet they remain totally accessible to mainstream radio audiences and older generations. When 6th graders and 60 year olds both dig what you do, you’re doing something right.

“Klapp Klapp,” the lead single off their upcoming album “Nabuma Rubberband” (May 13, 2014) came out in mid February. It is a perfect benchmark of where the band stands today. Take the bassline, which flips back and forth between an acoustic jazz pluck and a heavy buzz saw. Or the aggressively repetitive snare track that fades to the background in the face of swelling strings and those classic Little Dragon organ stabs.

By the end, Nagano is autotune trilling like OG T-Pain, and it somehow fits. I cannot wait for the album to drop, because if “Klapp Klapp” is any barometer, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Little Dragon – Klapp Klapp

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