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Calvin Harris – Merrymaking At My Place

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You may have heard of Calvin Harris. The Scottish singer/songwriter/producer/DJ (born Adam Richard Wiles) made close to $50 million last year on the back of chart-busting singles, world tours and an auto-tune machine singer named Rihanna, for whom he wrote “We Found Love.”

If you just tuned in during 2013, you probably think Calvin is just another pop-douche EDM DJ, pressing play and waving his hands a lot while the kids beg for “the drop.” You and your hipster friends rag on him while you smoke American Spirits outside that bar no one’s even reviewed on Yelp yet, even though you think that one song with the singer of Florence and the Machine is pretty good.

Does that paragraph describe your opinion of Mr. Wiles? This post is for you.

I remember first coming across Calvin Harris, back in ’07, while scrolling through new music on Acquisition, an OSX Limewire clone. I was coming out of my “Only Led Zeppelin and Woodstock bands” phase and digging into underground and older electronic music, from Tune Up to Stanton Warriors. Harris’ first album “I Created Disco,” was already a hit in the UK (surprise), but was nowhere to be found in the states. My friends and I fell for it immediately, from the irreverent “Neon Rocks” to the loopy “Vegas” to the perennially underrated “Love Souvenir.” Not to mention the hits: “Acceptable in the 80s,” “The Girls” and today’s track, “Merrymaking At My Place.”

The album was an instant classic that presaged the move towards the knockoff 80s electropop that dominates the blogosphere today. It was totally raw and flippant, a kid fiddling with a computer, imbued with a real-life case of Julian Casablancas’ laconic ambivalence. It also launched Harris into the next-level, tearing him from the underground before he got settled.

He started writing, producing and remixing for a bunch of other artists, while working on his breakout follow up, “Ready for the Weekend” (2009). Standouts include Kylie Minogue’s “Heart Beat Rock,” Dizzee Rascal’s “Dance Wiv Me” and “Holiday” (from his fantastic album “Tongue in Cheek”), and The Ting Ting’s “Hands.”

In ’09, he issued this quote – “If you look at music it’s a frightening stranglehold that Simon Cowell has got over the entire music chart in the UK at the moment” – after trolling Cowell’s feel-good masterpiece of commercial dominance “The X Factor” by walking on stage unannounced while balancing a pineapple on his head. His apology: “At the end of the day, I had a pineapple on my head.”

I was lucky enough to see Harris perform live, with a full band, at Coachella in ’08. I’ll admit to leaving early (Prince was playing…) but remember thinking “Oh, this is real. He’s really good.”

Sadly, he hasn’t performed with a band since 2010, preferring to rake in the cash with solo DJ sets and a steady stream of cheeseball electro-pop offerings that show none of the range that made him such an exciting young artist. I guess $50 million can do that to you.

But this is a celebratory post, in honor of the artist that was. The artist that created a human synthesizer, aka the “Humanthesizer,” out of bikinied models (Google it). The artist that launched a web series called “JAM TV,” in which celebrities tried to open jars of jam (now unavailable on the regular internet. And if you’re like, huh, regular internet? Good, keep it that way.) The artist who “Created Disco” for a new generation of record-heads, from Dumfries to Santa Monica.

Thanks Calvin. Can’t wait to have you back.

Calvin Harris – Merrymaking At My Place


Naughty Boy feat. Wiz Khalifa & Ella Eyre – Think About It (TWRK Remix)

The new year has brought an onslaught of goodness and balance. Which means a terrific force of both good and bad. I spent the first day of 2014 in a combination of different exercise modes. I exercised my love for food by attending a brunch that has become tradition with one of my best friends; I physically exercised with an hour and a half yoga class that really set my head straight. I think it was during that class that I started thinking about balance even more than I usually do, perhaps because the instructor kept talking about how painful positions make the not painful ones so much more intense and full of emotion. And isn’t that what we strive for? The most intense experience of happiness?

I also danced a little bit by myself at some point in that day. I dance pretty much every day, but it’s always important for me to start the day (or year, in this instance) off with a little bit of dance to myself. I love this banger of a tune because it’s not about being in the club and needing to be in that moment with those people, it’s about busting a move wherever you may be. This song makes me feel sexy. Sure, it’s sexy on it’s own sort of, but it’s more high energy than sexy. Somewhere in the translation, it places the sexy onto the listener.

Here’s to a balanced 2014.

Naughty Boy feat. Wiz Khalifa & Ella Eyre – Think About It (TWRK Remix)


Lily Wood and the Prick – L.E.S. Artistes (Santigold Cover)

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What I’m searching for? 

To tell it straight I’m trying to build a wall
Walking by myself down avenues that reek of time to kill

If you see me keep going be a pass-by waver
Build me up bring me down just leave me out you name-dropper
Stop trying to catch my eye I see you good you forced faker
Just make it easy you’re my enemy you fast-talker.

I can say I’ll hope it will be worth what I give up
If I could stand up mean for the things that I believe
I can say I’ll hope it will be worth what I give up
If I could stand up mean for the things that I believe…

What am I here for? 

I left my home to disappear is all
I’m here for myself, not to know you, I don’t need no one else

Fit in so good the hope is that you cannot see me later
You don’t know me I am an introvert, an excavator
I’m duckin’ out for now a face in dodgy elevators
Creep up and suddenly I found myself an innovator…”

Lily Wood and the Prick – L.E.S. Artistes


Teleman — Cristina

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The closest thing I could describe this Teleman tune titled “Cristina” to is like listening to a collaboration between modern day versions of The Beatles & The Beach Boys.  I guess you will just have to listen to it for yourself to get exactly what I mean here, but I promise you that it will be absolutely worth every second.

Cristina” is a fun track for any day or any daydreaming moment.  It’s paraded by a medley of great sounds galore that transform it into an extremely interesting, captivating and catchy  song to bop your head to, and be whisked away, for just a few minutes, to the Swinging Sixties, or something more modern yet still resembling that era.  Sort of like what a lot of recent societies around the world are becoming: societies so fed up with social inequality and failed institutions and sciences that they have begun to offer their own free health clinics, breakfast programs for schoolchildren, free clothing facilities, busing to prisons with families of incarcerated individuals, and self-defense classes for all minorities, of color or class, subjected to police harassment.  An era of that is freely deviating from the norms of the last two decades in order to enjoy life at its most basic layer.

Music, sex, weed, sex, more music, sex and the true freedom of mind, body and soul are the things in life that barely cost a thing.  In all actuality, they should cost nothing, but once again, the failed science of economics has shed some shadow on some of these things; even still, we are deviating more from the norms of control, and breaking free more and more as a globe.  Societies all around the world are breaking free and fighting until death to do so.  The incredible amount of economic disparities around the world these days have been far more noticeable than the past; blame social media, blame greedy politicians and financial institutions, blame the masters of Earth, or don’t blame anyone, it really doesn’t matter because things are changing, and changing fast.

The construct is in a panic,  meanwhile you and I are sitting here stressed about nothing, enjoying life in its purest form and mellowing out to “Cristina”.  “She’s so good”.

Lie down and let the music play 
Nothing in the way now 
Lie down and let the music play.”

Teleman — Cristina


Fern Kinney – Baby, Let Me Kiss You

I accidentally stumbled upon Fern Kinney’s music a couple of weeks ago while listening to a playlist curated by Norwegian producer, Lindstrøm. If you like R&B fused disco funk, you should absolutely check out his playlist on Spotify. I was intrigued by Fern Kinney’s unique blend of vocals and funky electro, and after reading about her history as a musician, I was surprised to find that her most famous works gave her the title of a “one-hit wonder.” I was surprised only because the song that I had latched onto, the one you can listen to below, is not the song she gained most of her fame for. In other words, it wasn’t her one-hit. She gained fame for her rendition of King Floyd’s, “Groove Me” (which is also freaky funky) in particular.

For some reason I am eerily fascinated by artists who are given the “one-hit wonder” title. I think it’s because I feel like they were cheated into a title that they didn’t choose. It’s not like they wanted it for themselves — if anything, they probably have the same slightly sad association in their heads that I have when I hear the phrase, like the rest of their work will be automatically dismissed by listeners.

Well, not today. Perhaps that is why I sought out knowledge on what Fern Kinney’s background was like. I wanted so badly not to believe the stereotype. And you know what? I was right. She’s a phenomenal musician with an exquisite ability to make me, the listener, want to move. I can’t speak for all of you, but I’d definitely be surprised to meet someone who didn’t feel emotionally (and physically) moved by her tasteful tunes.

Fern Kinney – Baby, Let Me Kiss You