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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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Jaymes Young – Habits of the Heart (Sufjan Stevens Remake)

Whether it’s the opening bit where you sense the faint sound of steel drum-esque tones, or the distorted opening words, “I can’t say no, it’s ripping me apart” you should feel this. I recently read about a condition called auditory agnosia, the neurological disorder where you do not have an emotional response to music. I thought about this as I listened to the words of this song. They are sexy and they cut hard.

I’d rather be alone. But you are fermented in my bones. Oh the habits of my heart.

The music continues and cuts in, drops off where his vocals are left to graze your skin. And then they add in some keys and the sound of a familiar break down recalling a ’60s rock song with the lingering strum of chords.

It’s ripping me apart. You get too close. You make it hard to let you go.

One common complaint we have all had in music is that it is too much at times. Too sexy. Too dark. Too dumb, really. But this song. This song defies that. A cover from Sufjan Stevens sung by the talented Jaymes Young, the song is dark and actually has words that are riddled with sex and regret and defeat. Avoiding the “and I was like, babyyy” for a more grown-up love song. But this is the stuff where you know you are either afflicted with (the worst condition I have learned about to date) auditory agnosia or you immediately are affected by the words and music style at hand.

When the popular playlist we are all too familiar with starts calling out, “I’m going down – timber” and is somehow mashed-up with a few verses of, “drunk in love“, it’s refreshing when you realize there are musicians that are still able to produce music that answers to a number of things: the animalistic call of wanting sex and love, making you sound interesting if you are caught singing in a hushed voice to this deep track as you walked back from your lover’s dwelling. Keep playing gentleman, for today is a dark day and even a dark song can bring a silver lining when you give it substance. We are starving for smart, insightful ballads to become anthems, and this can be one for you.

Jaymes Young – Habits of the Heart (Sufjan Stevens Remake)

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Miguel – …All (Kastle Remix)

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I just wanna/have fun and make money”

Don’t we all.

Since bursting onto the burgeoning nu-R&B scene with 2012’s “Kaleidoscope Dream” and its ubiquitous hit “Adorn,” Miguel has established himself as the top honey-rap singer in the game.

Honey Rap: a sub-genre combining hip-hop, R&B and soul, usually focused lyrically on illicit complementation of the female body and delivered in a sexy, nonaggressive manner (see Mario – “Let Me Love You.” I made up that definition, because apparently honey rap isn’t an accepted term. My friends and I have been using it for years…what gives, Internet? COINED.

A hallmark of Miguel’s songs is lush production: layer upon layer of  synth pads, reverb’d beats, duplicated vocal tracks. It works, but can get old. Which is why Kastle’s treatment of “…All” is so refreshing. The American producer’s work makes expert use of space, never oversoaking a track and always mastered to make every click and snap crisp and audible.

This isn’t one of Kastle’s dance tracks, per se. Rather, it begs to gush from your headphones and offer an escape. It’s a pick-me-up when you need moment of calm.

Miguel – …All (Kastle Remix)

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Pet Shop Boys – Axis

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Not many industry watchdogs in 1984 would have predicted that Pet Shop Boys would still be releasing albums selling out tours in 2014. And yet, 12 albums in, the alternative dance music pioneers are still going strong. Their most recent release, 2013’s “Electric” scored 84/100 on leading ratings site Metacritic, a score that represents “universal acclaim.”

Many American EMPT readers may be scratching their heads. Pet Shop who? Maybe it’s because the band’s biggest hit, “West End Girls,” came out in the mid-80s, or that the duo has purposefully eschewed the spotlight (or at least attempted to…they remain a major commercial force worldwide), but they’ve been largely overlooked by a new generation of stateside dance music fans.

This isn’t your brother’s dance music. It’s your crazy uncle’s. You know, the guy your mom tells you to steer clear of because he still raves it up, and who your grandmother shuns because he’s gay.  But you know he isn’t crazy. He’s the one with the right idea. He gave you your first Suicidal Tendencies record and condoms for your 16th birthday.

Just ask the brits, who are apparently always ahead of the game when it comes to music. Pet Shop Boys are a major force across the pond, with over 20 top 10 singles during the span of their career. The guys started out producing Hi-NRG (a subgenre of disco quickly succeeded by house and new wave) tracks, before shifting into a recognizable tech-ed out new-wave sound. First known for their stoic stage demeanor and legendary status in the LGBT community, the band has continued developing into new sounds and styles, and are now a true standard bearer of their era.

“Axis” is the lead single off “Electric.” It is a perfect summation of Pet Shop Boys in 2014. You can still hear the new wave bass line and synth stabs, but now the soft crooning is replaced a Kraftwerkian bark. This is new wave for the festival era

Pet Shop Boys – Axis

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Just Friends – Don’t Tell Me

“I took her out to lunch, not dinner. I held her hand and kissed her cheek. Picked up the tab, then had tea at her parents house. We got dirty in the guest bathroom while her dad was in the next room. She knows my middle name and the way I drink my coffee. She likes Volfpeck and the funk too. Hand to heart though, we’re just friends.” – imaginary scenes of the obscene.

Just Friends – Don’t Tell Me

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Marvin Gaye – Grapevine (Autograf Remix)

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This is the musical equivalent of a finely aged bottle of wine. Fine as wine. And oh so sexy. Staying true to the nature of the timeless Marvin Gaye classic, this Autograf refix is pure magic. The glitchy, airy, chill-house-Nicolas Jaar-eque vibes resonate so well with the original vocal track and the combination makes for a sort of eerily blissful landscape.

Perfect for such a sultry day as this one, this track is a great example of the undeniable allure of an extremely potent bass line– especially one so sonorously commanding from the start.  This track hits the sweet spot you forgot you had… ufff. All about the low end and its ruthless capacity for seduction.

Oh I heard it through the grapevine,
Oh and I’m just about to lose my mind.
Honey, honey yeah.

Marvin Gaye – Grapevine (Autograf Remix)

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